Chocolates De Mendes is recognized in Brazil and in the world for the quality and differentiated flavors of its bars. But what not many know is that this very special and unique taste has everything to do with the origin of cocoa, with its totally artisanal production method and in partnership with the traditional populations of the Amazon. Discover the history of Chocolates De Mendes and understand how this chocolate with Amazonian terroir is produced.
Located in the traditional community of Colônia Chicano, in Santa Bárbara, in the metropolitan region of Belém do Pará, the origin of the cocoa that makes up the bars of Chocolates De Mendes bears the mark of the biodiversity of the Amazon.
Credits: Rogério Assis / ISA
The idea of creating the factory, the special flavors and a sustainable production chain came from the unsettling mind and eager for knowledge of César De Mendes. The son of a quilombola mother and a riverine father, the chocolatier with Jewish and Moroccan ancestry worked as a professor, researcher and consultant for companies in the area of food technology before dedicating himself to the De Mendes factory. César pursued an academic career in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering with five specializations and two master's degrees in Natural Products Chemistry and Food Technology. As a project consultant, he worked for the Municipality of Medicilândia in planning the economic development of the municipality, the largest cocoa producer not only in the state of Pará, but also in Brazil. Along with his work at City Hall and in partnership with the Cooperativa Agroindustrial da Transamazônica (COOPATRANS), César developed the project for the Amazônia Cacau chocolate factory, which in 2010 left the paper and became a reality.
This professional experience brought back memories of her childhood and her origins, giving her both a yearning and a motivation to change her life. After many years of study in Belém and São Paulo, in addition to traveling throughout the country as a consultant, César transformed his perspective and the entire production chain in search of native cocoa. This is because he has always been a tireless defender of nature, he has always had a genuine concern with its conservation and with the preservation of the cultural and historical wealth of the traditional peoples of the Amazon. And it was precisely from this concern to truly contribute to keeping the forest standing, to improving people's quality of life and to transforming the production chain, that César moved to the riverside and quilombola community Colônia Chicano and founded Chocolates from Mendes.
“There was always an idea that cocoa came from Central America or Europe. Nothing was said about Brazil, much less about the Amazon. It bothered me a lot.” – César De Mendes in an interview with Estadão
“The ones who preserve the Amazon are the native peoples, who manage to manage the forest without cutting it down, using it in a sensible, wise and balanced way.” – César De Mendes in an interview with Estadão
De Mendes emerged in 2014 not only among the traditional populations of the Amazon, such as indigenous people, quilombolas, riverine people, caboclos and family farmers, but in tune with the values of these peoples. And this is one of the reasons why the chocolate produced by César is so unique and special. Its production is entirely artisanal and its work is based on the selection of native cocoa with sensory excellence and on the preparation of fine cocoa through the training of these different communities. These partnerships represent the true essence of Chocolates De Mendes and are reflected in the flavor and quality of all its products.
De Mendes recognizes the value of these peoples and territories. Based on their deep knowledge and strong relationship with the land, these communities select cocoa and cupuaçu beans to meet the high degree of sensory excellence required by the Factory's production. All are trained by César himself to work in the harvesting, selection, breaking, fermentation and drying of the almonds. The chocolatier is concerned with sharing his knowledge, so that it is retained at the origin of the production chain and perfected by the local peoples themselves.
In this partnership with the traditional populations of the Amazon, César established with each of the people he works with a relationship of interaction, involvement, exchange, learning and connection of great depth and meaning. A bond of such reciprocity and respect that it always moves him. In theory, it is César “the teacher” who teaches and trains his partners to supply the raw materials for his chocolates, but in practice, he is the one who learns from the stories, cultural roots, ancestral knowledge, identity, values , the essence and wisdom of each of these peoples.
These traditional communities thus become the true guardians of their natural wealth, with access to income through responsible and sustainable forest management, contributing to the preservation and protection of biodiversity and the environment. By manufacturing chocolate bars and cupulates rich in flavor and history, De Mendes acts with socio-environmental integrity from harvest to production.
The origin of the cocoa used by De Mendes and the search for the fruit
César and the traditional peoples of the region make expeditions in search of native cacao and
spices to create the perfect chocolate, something that earned him the nickname the Indiana Jones of Chocolate. The origin of cocoa is intrinsically linked to the flavor of each
one of the bars. The Amazon is a very rich area, formed by different biomes, which differ in terms of water availability, incidence of light, vegetation of the region and soil characteristics. All this influences the taste of chocolate. The bars produced by De Mendes draw attention for their differentiated notes. There are chocolates with notes of flowers, dried fruits, honey and chestnuts, for example. And this unique and delicious result is due not only to the type of biome from which the raw material comes from, but also to the pre-processing carried out by the partner communities.
The origin of cocoa lies in the name and flavor of all bars produced by Chocolates De Mendes. Bom Jardim, Xiba, Mocajuba, Sakaguchi and Yanomami-Ye'kwana are just a few examples of bar names that honor communities, associations, cooperatives or regions where cocoa beans were pre-processed, in addition to rivers, indigenous peoples or protagonists of stories that marked Caesar's life. The concentration of cocoa in all bars produced by De Mendes is similar and none of them has hydrogenated fat and other chemicals that alter flavor, color and aroma. In addition, the origin of the cocoa used by De Mendes is studied by scientists. When species that have not yet been cataloged are found, the material is sent to geneticists at Ceplac (Executive Commission for the Cocoa Crop Plan). In 2014, César De Mendes discovered Jarí cocoa on one of his expeditions. It was collected on the border between the states of Pará and Amapá, more precisely in the municipalities of Almerim (Pará) and Laranjal do Jarí (Amapá) in the midst of a dense primary forest full of centuries-old chestnut trees. The bar produced with this cocoa is called Chocolate Jarí because it was found on the banks of the so-called river.
The origin of the cocoa and the taste of De Mendes' premium chocolate also pleases the palate of foreigners. The chocolatier takes part of his production to national and international events, which has already won him awards at several festivals and featured in specialized publications. Do you want to try premium chocolate and at the same time contribute to improving the quality of life of the people of the Amazon?
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