Emilie watches Kuapa cocoa being checked for quality

26 November 2010

The third blog post from our friend Swedish graduate Emilie Persson out in Ghana:

Checking the quality of Kuapa cocoa

One of Kuapa Kokoo’s district depots is located in Assin Akonfudi. The depot is used to store a large quantity of cocoa in jute sacks, before it is being transported to the Tema harbour for export. The depot collects cocoa from around fifteen villages. At the depot the quality is checked by people from the ‘Quality and Control Division’, a branch of a governmental board (COCOBOD) that controls cocoa production in Ghana.

Instrument to measure levels of moisture

One day I was able to watch a quality control officer working at the depot. One of the first steps was to check the dryness in each of the four hundred bags. Each of the bags has been given a number that indicate the village of origin and can be traced. The dryness is checked with a metal instrument called aqua-boy. The next step is to take cocoa samples from four sides of each bag to make sure the cocoa in the bag is uniformly mixed in terms of colour and size. The officer then mixes all the sampled cocoa beans and takes a smaller sample that he manually cuts open and checks for mouldy beans or beans that have germinated or in some cases have not been fermented long enough which results in a special colour. Based on the results, the officer will reject or seal the cocoa and it will be take to the port on a large trailer. Another quality control officer then does the same procedure one more time at the Tema port.

To produce good quality cocoa the farmers need to make sure that it is well fermented and well dried, two processed that demands at least two times six days. And because each bag of cocoa for Divine Chocolate can be traced back to the village of origin, the recorders are very particular about the cocoa they buy from the individual Kuapa farmer, which ensures that the cocoa in Divine  is pa pa paa! – the best of the best!

Taking a sample from the cocoa sacks


What makes Divine special?

23 November 2010

Nine bars from Divine

I recently ran a competition for our Twitter followers asking them to answer the question ‘what makes Divine special?’.  The prize was two £50 vouchers to Pizza Express.

I thought I’d share just a selection of the answers received.

– Divine is special because it keeps the kids quiet while they have a mouthful of delicious brownies that I make with Divine Chocolate so I can have five minutes peace after a hectic day!

– I love Divine because of it’s commitment to fairtrade and farmers. Also because it is a rich, smooth chocolate that when it melts in your mouth warms and comforts you on a cold miserable day like today.

– Divine chocolate is special because:
The wrapper’s ornate, like rich Ghanaian textiles,
The chocolate within engenders nothing but big smiles,
And these beautiful smiles come not just from me,
But farmers like Comfort, who own near half the company!

– What makes Divine to me is the taste, the ingredients, the way the chocolate melts in my mouth and puts me in a really good mood. To me Divine Chocolate is exceptional, no other chocolate tastes like Divine.

– 2 words *best chocolate* x x

And here are the two winning answers:

1. It’s rich, irresistible, fair and true  (If only Divine made men too!). Well done Emma Clarke!

2. It’s rich, tasty and scrupulously fair.  Such a package is truly rare! Well done Anna Aird!

Thanks tweeters for your wonderful and uplifting answers!  Follow us on Twitter at @divinechocolate


Emilie’s second post from Kuapa village Assin Akonfudi

22 November 2010

 The main entrance to Akonfudi from the Cape Coast- Kumasi road, enters the village with a taxi station on the right hand side, some ‘petty-shops’ selling things such as soft-drinks, soaps, canned fish, tomato paste and colorful chewing gums. On the left hand side is a large beautiful tree.

Under the tree at Assin Akonfudi

As an ‘obroni’ – (a common expression for a white person), some things in the rural environment really surprise you, such as the pool-table located below in the shade provided by the branches of the huge tree. When asking around it turns out that the table is locally made and brought in from the regional capital Cape Coast. Surrounding the table are often a few boys, between the ages of ten to eighteen years, playing a game of pool. The rules governing the game are that up to three players can play at the same time and the loser has to pay the usage fee of ten Ghana pesewas. According to Amu Blessing, a young boy who is in charge of the table (the boy in white to the left in the picture) it is popular to play but its common that ‘children don’t pay after playing’.

When I ask his mother, Rebecca Fuatche, a shop owner, the background of the pool table she explains that it was brought to the village about two years back by Amu’s older brother for recreational purposes. She says that in a good day the family can get an income of one Ghana Cedi (equivalent to about £0.43). During the times I have visited the pool table there have never been any girls playing, I ask Rebecca about it. She explains by saying that ‘The ladies are not interested’. Based on my observations, a more accurate explanation might be that some girls often are too busy helping their families with domestic work such as washing clothes, cooking or selling oranges.


It’s time to make your Christmas Pudding & Christmas Cake!

17 November 2010

Brand New Recipe from Divine – Divine Christmas Pudding

Divine Christmas Pudding

It’s “Stir Up Sunday” this Sunday, the  21st November, which means it’s time to dust off your pudding basins and hunt out your dried fruit as today is the traditional day to make your Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake. It’s called “stir up” for the obvious reasons that you stir together your fruit mixes.  Stir Up Sunday is held on the last Sunday before the start of Advent. Traditionally everyone in the household, or at least every child, gave the mixture a stir, adding silver three penny coins and making a wish while doing so.  There is then four weeks for the cake and pudding to mature, develop in flavour and be ‘fed’ with brandy or other spirit to give them that characteristic rich, moist, boozy flavour.

The perfect pudding should be dense & moist and bursting with the flavour of the fruit and booze. Making a Christmas pudding does take time. There are 13 ingredients to prepare and weigh (each of the ingredients representing Christ and each of his disciples), the fruits then need time to marinate, and finally the steaming takes several hours. However, once made and put away in a cool, dry place, the pudding only needs a further hour steaming on the day itself.  Most definitely worth the effort!

This version includes just a touch of Divine’s velvety rich 85% Dark Chocolate which you can find at Tesco (and Tesco online).  It will add another layer of flavour to this traditional Christmas Pud recipe.

Preparation Time 20 minutes Cooking Time 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves eight)

  • Melted butter, to grease
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g dried pitted dates, chopped
  • 100g dried whole figs, chopped
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g glace cherries, chopped
  • 50g mixed glace fruits (such as pineapple), chopped
  • 125ml brandy
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 155g Fairtrade brown sugar
  • 60ml golden syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g Divine 85% Dark Chocolate, melted
  • 160g canned or stewed apple
  • 75g  plain flour, sifted
  • 55g breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground nutmeg ½ tsp allspice
  • 2 tablespoons brandy + extra to serve

Method

  1. Brush a 1 litre capacity heatproof, microwave-safe pudding basin with melted butter to lightly grease.
  2. Combine the sultanas, raisins, dates, figs, apricots, cherries and glace fruit in a glass or ceramic bowl. Place brandy in a heatproof, microwave-safe jug. Cover with plastic wrap and heat on High/800watts/100% for 1-2 minutes or until hot. Pour brandy over fruit mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to macerate.
  3. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large bowl until thick and pale. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and fruit mixture, and stir until well combined. Add the apple, flour, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and stir until well combined.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin. Cover with two layers of baking paper. Tie string under the rim of the basin to secure. Steam for 4 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean. Drizzle with extra brandy and set aside to cool.  Cover with foil and store in a cool, dark place till Christmas Day.

Notes & Tips

  • Allow 30 minutes macerating time.
  • You can make this pudding up to one month ahead. Wrap in foil wrap and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 4 hours before serving to bring to room temperature.
  • Reheating guide – For the whole pudding: Line a heatproof, microwave-safe plate with non-stick baking paper. Turn the pudding onto the plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place on a microwave-safe rack or upturned saucer (2cm off the turntable). Reheat on Medium-Low/Defrost/350watts/30% for 15-20 minutes or until the pudding feels warm (it will get hotter on standing). For a single serving: Place on a heatproof, microwave-safe plate and cover with plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe rack or upturned saucer (about 2cm off the turntable). Reheat on Medium-Low/Defrost/350watts/30% for 2-3 minutes or until warm. Set aside for 30 seconds to stand. Uncover and serve.

David’s off to Ghana with your questions for farmers

16 November 2010

Divine's David Greenwood-Haigh (seen here with Beverley Knight at Greenbelt)

David Greenwood-Haigh, our national account manager here at Divine UK, is off to Ghana for the first time next week to see how Kuapa Kokoo works at first hand, and catch up with all the farmers he’s met in UK, out on their farms.  Cocoa harvest will be in full swing.

Send us the questions you’d like to ask farmers and David will aim to get as many answers as he can. Just post your questions below.


Emilie’s first Divine report from Assin Akonfudi, Ghana

15 November 2010

First post from Swedish graduate Emilie Persson:

Welcome to my posts from Assin Akonfudi!

welcome to Assin Akonfudi

Children by one of the many churches

I will try to capture some of the everyday activities from one of the many villages where the Kuapa Kokoo farmers live and where farmer grow the cocoa for the company they co-own – Divine. As a masters-graduate in global studies, from the University of Gothenburg in western Sweden, I’ve been given an exciting opportunity to spend two months in the Ghanaian countryside, more exactly Assin Akonfudi in the central region. Having a passionate interest for development and agriculture and with several years of experience advocating Fairtrade in Sweden, it’s great to be able to get a more in-depth insight into the lives of the farmers behind Divine.  I hope it will be as interesting for you too!

Assin Akonfudi is situated in the north of the central region, close to the district capital Assin Bereku, on the main road from Cape Coast to Kumasi. The village is a mixed community with people of the ewe, fanti and ga tribes as well as others from the northern part of the country. According to the last census Akonfudi has around 2600 residents, some being very spiritual and enjoying spending their time in any of the twenty-three (!) churches or two mosques that the village holds, and traditional beliefs are also common. Surrounding Akonfudi are farmlands and it’s very common to grow cocoa, but also oil palm, orange, coconuts, coffee and teak. It is also very popular to use part of the farmland for banana or vegetables like tomato, pepper and garden eggs. Grazing around freely are plenty of goats, sheep, chickens and dogs, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming and music can always be heard from every house.

The village pool tableThe Kuapa Kokoo society in Akonfudi has been in place since 2007 and it has at the moment 23 members, out of which eight are women. In some of the coming blog posts we will join Kuapa’s recorder in Akonfudi  – John Dornu. He himself is a cocoa farmer and has been democratically elected by Kuapa members. John is in charge of collecting and paying for the cocoa from the members. We will join him at his farm to learn more about the complicated process of producing cocoa and all the steps involved.

In the picture below, I’m visiting the village Worakese Adabo, where Frank Arthur is the Kuapa Kokoo recorder.

Emilie and Kuapa Recorder Frank Arthur at Worakese Adabo village


Guess who’s loving Divine (7)

5 November 2010
Rhian Benson
Rhian Benson

Smooth soul singer Rhian Benson loves Divine!  Her Ghanaian roots showing loud and proud!

“I will always remember my first taste of chocolate. It was Christmas in Ghana and my Auntie gave me a box of miniature chocolates made from local Ghana cocoa. The main thing I remember as a child of 4 was the velvet smooth, richness and that unforgettable flavour.. so began my life-long love affair with chocolate! 

Years later I have come to appreciate that the unique characteristic of the chocolate I first fell in love with in Ghana derived from the combination of very high cocoa content and the superior quality cocoa used in the manufacture of the chocolates. I am so delighted to have found this unique flavour all over again in Divine chocolate

Divine believes in fair trade with their Ghana cocoa farming partners, a sustainable and mutually beneficial arrangement that ensures that Ghanaian cocoa farmers reap their just rewards for the incredibly hard work they do and Divine, in turn, receive the very finest cocoa available. One thing that I hugely admire is that the brand is actually owned by the farmers! In return they benefit so much more than other chocolate brands who don’t provide those opportunities for their farmers. DIVINE stands out from the others!

Divine is as Divine does!!”

Find out about Rhian’s new album here – and find out who else is loving Divine…


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