How our chocolate began
Our bean to bar chocolate uses cocoa beans grown by a small group of families on an island in Vanuatu. I first travelled to Vanuatu back in 2010 to rejuvenate and manage a large commercial cocoa plantation. Having a background in Viticulture in Australia, and Teaching in the Solomon Islands, I jumped at the chance to grow, process and export cocoa, and to live in a pacific island community again.
It was here on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu that my interest in bean-to-bar chocolate really sparked... the fascinating way it grows, and how fermentation transforms the bean into the unique rich raw ingredient of chocolate...
Fast track a couple of years... after training in chocolate-making, and piecing together / self-engineering equipment to roast, crack, winnow, grind and temper the cocoa beans into bars of chocolate.. Spencer Cocoa was born in 2012! I stayed in touch with a few of the growers I'd met whilst working there and we now buy cocoa regularly from 2-3 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 some close relationships with a couple of growers in particular. We keep in touch most weeks on the phone and look forward to our annual trips to Vanuatu to catch up with the growers and their families. It's such a different climate and culture so close to Australia. Everytime I step off the tiny plane I take a deep breath of warm, humid, smoke-tainted air I feel a sense of 'home' (anyone who's been to Vanuatu / Solomon Islands will know what I'm talking about!).
We are so proud of our chocolate, it's simple ingredients and direct trade origins.. oh and it's rather good!
Luke Spencer - chocolate maker