How our chocolate began
I first travelled to Vanuatu in 2010, to rejuvenate and manage a large, commercial cocoa plantation.
It was there, on the island of Malekula, that my interest in bean-to-bar chocolate began – I was fascinated by the way cocoa trees grow, and how fermentation transforms the beans into the rich, raw ingredient of chocolate.
With a background in viticulture in Australia and teaching in the Solomon Islands, the opportunity to grow, process and export cocoa, and to live in a Pacific Island community again was too good to resist.
Fast track a couple of years... training in chocolate-making, piecing together / self-engineering equipment to roast, crack, winnow, grind and temper the cocoa beans into bars of chocolate, and in 2012 Spencer Cocoa was finally born!
I stayed in touch with a few of the growers I'd met whilst working in Malekula and we now buy cocoa from families who ferment and dry the beans from their own tiny cocoa plantations, ready for shipping to Australia.
Over my time living and working in the Solomons and in Vanuatu, I've grown to treasure the Islander culture and have developed close relationships with some of the growers. Each time I arrive in Vanuatu and take a deep breath of the warm, humid, smoke-tainted air, I feel a sense of 'home'.
We are proud of our chocolate – of its simple ingredients, direct trade origins, oh...and the taste!
Luke Spencer - chocolate maker, agronomist