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Meet Kristen Hard of CACAO

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen hard.

Kristen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Chocolate has been a passion for Kristen since her early childhood years. While her vision was to create some of the best quality chocolate one could offer, in her endeavor to do so, she encountered many issues such as poverty, lack of knowledge in quality and no transparency in an industry that seemed to be so well established that the shift for change had proven difficult. With true sustainability in mind, she set out to redefine industry standards one chocolate at a time.

The primary issue the chocolate sector faces is its sustainability. It has been proven by the lack of desire on behalf of the farmer to continue to grow cacao as a crop. As a result, the future of the cacao tree and the chocolate thus created is at risk. Production has been in decline for years leaving us with a major quantity issue. Alongside a quantity issue, we have seen a severe decline in the diversity of cacao. With these issues, and as a company that prides itself in quality, diversity, and transparency, we source cacao and produce chocolate with the hopes that this will help to redefine the sector relating pricing, quality, and market such that the customer and the farmer are in control of the supply and demand.

It is known that there are three groups that cacao can be grouped into. These three groups are criollo, trinitario, and forastero. Each group has unique qualities that are inherently diverse and can be perceived by the market each in their own unique way. There are traits of each group that make way for a natural pricing structure that relates to the genetic qualities each represent.

Each grouping expresses traits that can be identified prior to processing which will require a unique fermentation method. Each varietal requires a different level of skill and attention and the results are unique. The criollo trees currently represent less than 1% of the worlds cacao content and is growing less and less each year.

Cacao seeds cannot be saved for future generational plantings. Heirloom cacao only exists in trees and those trees are succeptable to disease and once they are gone, they are extinct.

With all of these factors, we as a company have endeavored to redefine the industry to relate the cacao to the market by a transparent protocol with pricing as it relates to the genetics and processing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth, wow. It has been the opposite of smooth. I guess most people would have given up by now, but failure is not an option for me. I have struggled with finances, employees, dishonest business deals, plane crashes, being stuck on the side of a mountain pregnant for 12 hours by myself and this is just a few. I love what I do and feel very strong about the mission. So, although there are many obstacles, they are all a drop in the bucket.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about CACAO – what should we know?
I love the idea of making the best chocolate that exists in the world. I have spent the last 15 years attempting to perfect the raw material both materially and through processing so that I can quantify what the best means and work with only that. It is only recently that I have been able to reach a point where I feel that we are getting much closer to the goal.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I am appreciative of the many customers that have made this journey possible. Although many have not totally understood what I have been trying to do as I have not communicated precisely my agenda, they have supported the journey. My business partner has been a great supporter and has believed in me every step of the way.

Contact Info:

  • Website: cacaoatlanta.com
  • Phone: 404-606-2474
  • Email: cacao@cacaoatlanta.com
  • Instagram: cacaoatlanta
  • Facebook: cacaoatlantachocoalteco

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