Wednesday, 6 September 2017

It's Bougainville Chocolate Festival time again!

The chocolate festival which is part of our value chain project in Bougainville is going from strength to strength. A very high quality field of entries shows the festival is inspiring growers to produce better cocoa beans.
Fresh cocoa beans still in the pod

In fact judging for the 2017 Bougainville Chocolate Festival has taken longer than expected.  This is because the judges are having trouble selecting between what they consider to be a very tight range of a number of high quality cocoas.  

‘Last year’s judging was relatively easy because there was a clear variation in the quality of the cocoa presented to us,’ said Mr Luke Spencer, proprietor of Spencer Chocolates at Mudgee, New South Wales, who was also a judge at last year’s Festival.  ‘That is not the case this year.  That is why it has taken longer than we thought.’   
Mr Peter Mengler, proprietor of Cravve Chocolates on Queensland’s Gold Coast and another second-time judge at the Festival, stated that there has been a marked improvement in the overall growers’ fermentation and drying techniques compared with last year.  A new judge for this year’s Festival Mr Gabriel Myburgh, from Gabriel’s in Western Australia, said he could make a chocolate from every one of the 28 cocoas presented!

The Festival is part of the ACIAR project Strengthening Value Chains on Bougainville.  Professor Merrilyn Walton, a member of the project team, was a guest judge for the first bracket of tasting.  She was surprised at just how hard it was to concentrate on using the mouth to identify a whole series of parameters such as the five criteria used in the flavour profile analysis.

The judges at work clockwise from left Phyliss Ivosa, Gabriel Myburg, Merrilyn Walton, Luke Spencer and Peter Mengler
The 28 samples of cocoa from Bougainville were made into chocolate at the Queen Emma Chocolate Factory in Port Moresby.  Ms Phyliss Ivosa, another second-time judge and the chocolate maker at Queen Emma, said ‘In a way I am delighted that the chocolates have made us judges think really hard about our task as this reflects the greater care that growers are now taking with their cocoa.’

Grant Vinning, the Judging Coordinator for the Festival, expressed on behalf of the Project his gratitude to Queen Emma Chocolates and its parent company Paradise Foods for the work they put in converting the cocoa in chocolate.  ‘It takes a day to do each sample and there were 28 samples.  This means that Queen Emma gave us a month of their time and facilities.  This was very generous of them and shows Queen Emma Chocolates’ dedication to developing the local cocoa industry.’

With such a high quality group of entrants, we are very excited to find out who the winner will be, and how good the final chocolate will taste!

By Grant Vinning and ACIAR

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