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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sweet Beat: East Bay Chocolatier Seeks to Boost Both Oakland and Jamaica

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM

click to enlarge Oakland Chococlate Co. sources beans from Jamaican farmers. - M. LADD
  • M. Ladd
  • Oakland Chococlate Co. sources beans from Jamaican farmers.
Utilizing space at Tanya Holland's Brown Sugar Kitchen, Oakland City Senior Council Member Nancy Nadel started out doing what she describes as bean to bar to bonbon. Today, Nadel calls herself cacaofevier and chocolatier (not to mention sole employee) of Oakland Chocolate Co., which sources cacao beans from farms in St. Mary's parish in Jamaica. After a family vacation 20 years ago, OCC's cacaofevier became interested in the Caribbean nation, where the government purchases cacao beans directly from farmers. As a result, fair-trade certification doesn't yet exist there (a possibility, says Nadel, but it "may be a long time coming") ― the Jamaica Cocoa Farmer's Association is working to set up fermentation and drying systems so that farmers can process cacao beans on their own land.

Meanwhile, Oakland Chocolate Company is still technically in startup mode ― there's a Box of the Month Club to keep business steady as Nadel seeks Oakland-based partners for a double-pronged economic development project she hopes will benefit both Oakland and Jamaica.

We're sort of partial to OCC's oval leaf bonbon filled with Jamaican lime pepper jelly from Busha Browne's, which makes artisanal products at a production facility in the Jamaican parish of St. Catherine. Products are available online and in S.F. at Chocolate Covered (4069 24th St. at Castro), and in Oakland at Mandela Foods (1430 Seventh St. at Center), along with other East Bay retailers.

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Mary Ladd

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