Original Beans was founded on a passion for replenishing what we consume, carrying on their founder’s family tradition of sustainability that began 220 years ago when his forefather Georg Hartig advised “to manage forests in such a way that future generations can reap the same benefit from them as the current one.”
Through their One Bar : One Tree programme, they have planted and preserved millions of trees in the cacao origins. When you break off a piece of Original Beans chocolate, not only are you moments away from enjoying the rarest cacao beans in their purest form—you are breaking ground for a tree.
Cocooned by the pristine wilderness of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Northern Colombia, the Arhuaco tribe is hard to get to. It takes 8 hours on motorcycle on winding dirt roads – down muddy paths, crossing rivers on corroded wooden rafts – to get to the heart of their land and the communities where Original Beans buy an ancient and rare cacao, which the Arhuaco call ‘Businchari’ (meaning sunrise and new beginnings).
Jan, cacao aficionado at Original Beans, was invited by the Arhuaco tribe to visit their villages and meet their spiritual elders. This is a great honour, since the Arhuaco are genuinely protective of their land due to their sad past with intruding outsiders: conquistadors, settlers, guerrilla groups, paramilitary forces, grave robbers – and most recently tourists with little respect for their customs and sacred sites.
Jan first visited the village of Katansama in 2015, where he sat down with one of the tribe’s spiritual elders, Mamo Kamilo. Telling the story of Original Beans, Jan explained that their chocolate wrapping and foil is bio-compostable. Mamo Kamilo cut the wrapping and foil into small pieces and buried it in the soil, whereafter he told Jan that he would contact him in 3 months time – “if this is really true, we can start working together”. Here, beneath a giant tree, a sacred meeting place for the community, their partnership with the Arhuaco tribe began. Since then Original Beans have been working hard to make a better living for the Arhuaco by empowering them to grow premium cacao in harmony with their rainforest home, while preserving their ancient and rare cacao heritage.
A percentage of profits from the Exeter Chocolate Festival will be donated to Original Beans’ ongoing work with a high school located in Bunkwimake in La Lengüeta, the cacao growing region of the Arhuaco tribe.
The high school takes 150 students, and is a 4 hour hike from the main road. Their vision is to become self sufficient through growing their own organic food. So far they have successfully replaced 100% of the sugar with handmade sugar cane honey, achieved a 50% of reduction of rice purchasing by growing potatoes and cassava, and reached the first 30 kg local made cacao mass (of the 120kg they require) for hot chocolate consumption for the boarding pupils.
The funds we raise will go directly to:
- Equipment purchasing and training courses to support:
- Self-sufficiency (irrigation system, seeds, equipment)
- Reforestation (growing the small nursery onsite)
- Organic cacao growing (training courses, equipment)
- Replacing the low quality supermarket bought cacao mass with high quality local, handmade cacao mass to make hot chocolate (required: 120 kg / year)