There are many ways to get your hands on cacao beans. You can purchase them through a broker, an importer or a big producer, and even just place an order online and wait for the delivery comfortably sitting at home. We took a different route: we travelled directly to Nicaragua to meet the people behind the cacao beans, check the quality ourselves and establish direct, trustworthy and long-lasting relations with them. This is how we started a direct trade with Nicaragua to make bean-to-bar chocolate.
Tuscani’s founder Krasimir developed an interest in the country of Nicaragua back in 2013, but not for cocoa. Thanks to a personal friend and mutual connections, he had the chance to travel to Nicaragua for the first time and remained fascinated with the country. From the joyful way of living to the good character of the people, all the way until the breath-taking fauna and flora, Kramisir was determined to keep a connection with this beautiful country and start a business. Cacao wasn’t the first idea that came to mind, but after trying out other businesses, Krasimir saw an opportunity with the high quality of the cocoa beans grown in some regions. But chocolate wasn’t on his mind yet. He wanted to see if there was a market in Europe for the cacao beans.
So in 2018, carrying with him samples of those Nicaraguan cacao beans, he attended Sigep Rimini, an important European event in Italy focused on pastry, bakery, ice-cream and chocolate. The main goal was to gather feedback on the cocoa beans: were they good enough to make extraordinary chocolate? Every professional loved the cocoa beans and wanted to order them for themselves. The praises were so high that Krasimir started to immediately get ready for importing.
In 2019, Krasimir travelled to Nicaragua to meet again with the cocoa farmers he met on the very first trip. This time, all the focus was on cocoa. Together with other business partners, he visited the farms in Matagalpa, Matiguas, Estelle and La Dalia. Nicaragua is full of wild and well-preserved cacao varieties and the farmers are some of the most knowledgeable. At first, there were many challenges based on language and cultural differences, but Krasimir felt at home with Nicaraguan cacao farmers and their humble way of living.
“They are far removed from the fast pace of life we are used to. They look at the world from a total different angle. When they welcomed me in their houses, I felt a true human friendship. They treat you like a special person when you appreciate their work and pay them with dignity.”
A lot of time was spent supervising fermentation and drying, and collecting the dried cacao beans from several cooperatives. The first container was officially loaded and ready to reach Europe!
Once 12,400 tons of fine-flavor cacao arrived at the port of Livorno, a brutal surprise awaited Krasimir: all the people that agreed to buy the cacao beans backed off and didn’t want the beans anymore. After all his efforts of importing the beans himself, Krasimir was stuck with all this amazing cacao that no Italian chocolatier was interested in. What to do then? The idea came naturally: open a chocolate factory in Tuscany to turn these amazing beans into special and unique chocolate. However, Krasimir was not a chocolate maker and never made chocolate before. So he decided to bridge the gap and learn the bean-to-bar craft from scratch. He attended bean-to-bar courses, searched for the best machines on the market and learned from professionals in the industry.
In 2020, Tuscani Cioccolato was born in Uzzano, Pistoia, in the middle of the Tuscany countryside. Now bean-to-bar chocolate is crafted with care and used for bars, bonbons, spreads, chocolate-covered fruits, nuts and many other treats!
We currently still have a lot of cacao to process, but we secretly can’t wait to run out as an excuse to go back to such a wonderful country.