Minas Hill launches Canopy Drinking Chocolate

Canopy Drinking Chocolate

Minas Hill founder Marcelo Brussi launches Canopy Drinking Chocolate and explains why it’s one of the most health-conscious and ethical drinking chocolates on the market.

Canopy Cocoa Founder Marcelo Brussi says it’s time for drinking chocolate to follow the same sustainable path as coffee and incorporate ethical practices into its production.

“I aim to raise awareness for the Australian coffee industry and wider community. If sustainable coffee is becoming more and more prevalent, why not sustainable drinking chocolate too?” Marcelo asks.

Made with pure Amazonian cocoa and unrefined organic rapadura sugar, Marcelo says Canopy Cocoa benefits its farmers, the planet, and consumers’ health thanks to its ingredients and their health-driven properties.

“Our drinking chocolate is made with just two ingredients, which is what makes it so healthy and delicious. Our cocoa from the Amazon Forest is customised to the Australian market, combining a specific cocoa butter content, which ensures a creamy mouthfeel. Our friends in Brazil also grind the cocoa in nanoparticles, creating that silk-coating typical from high-quality chocolates,” he says.

“Cocoa is also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found naturally in the cacao bean. Only Amazonian cocoa can claim to be free of cadmium, a harmful heavy metal found in the soil of other cocoa producing areas.”

Rainforest Alliance Certified, Canopy Cocoa made its debut at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) and is available in 250-gram retail pouches and one-kilogram wholesale bags.

“We have wholesale bags available for coffee roasters to distribute Canopy Cocoa to their café customers, giving them the option to sell something healthier and more sustainable. Our one- kilogram bags are suited for barista use and the 250-gram pouches will give cafés a chance to display it on their shelves. Now they can be associated with a brand that has a sustainable approach, free of unhealthy ingredients typically found in drinking chocolate, such as white or even brown sugar,” Marcelo says.

The cocoa production takes place in São Felix do Xingu, Brazil, and is one of the main economic activities
of the municipality. This makes the agroforestry based on the maintenance of the forest an important activity in a region marked by deforestation and cattle. For many local communities, family agriculture is a way of reducing the negative impact of such practices.

“Campax is a cooperative we source cocoa from. Two hundred families produce cocoa among native trees, taking into consideration environmental and economic interests. The cooperative is part of conservation programs for responsible forest management through the agroforestry production methods in alignment with family faming and forest preservation,” Marcelo says.

As the cocoa is sourced from the Amazon region, the company is taking the product from its natural environment with the “perfect terroir”.

“[The farmers] know when and how to pick the cocoa at its ripest. The way they ferment and roast their cocoa produces one of the highest qualities you can find,” Marcelo says.

“I believe we can create a niche in sustainable and specialty cocoa. Like coffee, cocoa is more than a commodity, and I believe people are willing to pay for something unique, specialty, quality, sustainable, and with a great cause behind it.”

The other ingredient in Canopy Cocoa, rapadura sugar, is the rawest form of sugar, sourced from a family-run organic sugarcane plantation in Brazil.

The plantation is located on Jacutinga farm, which has a large biodiversity. Besides the sugarcane fields, there are small areas with rubber tree and Eucalyptus plantations. About 20 per cent of the farm is covered with natural forest.

“Since 1987, Jacutinga farm CEO Emile Lutz has operated in accordance with organic principles. Integration of compost and livestock farming improves nutrient cycling, soil fertility and the health of the sugarcane plant. Erosion of arable topsoil due to strong tropical downpours is a considerable risk in Brazil. Therefore, the sugarcane is planted with bushes and trees. These small biotopes prevent topsoil erosion,” Marcelo says.

Due to the organic nature of the sugarcane, Marcelo guarantees full traceability, from the field right up until the final product, thanks to an extensive checking system.

“Organic whole sugar is a whole food, with all minerals contained in the sugarcane plant preserved, as there isn’t any kind of refining involved. Organic whole sugar is rich in minerals, such as calcium, potassium, phosphor, and iron. It is an energetic food appreciated by sportsmen, and is recommended during pregnancy and for children, as it releases stress, and helps prevent osteoporosis due to its high calcium content. It can be used as a substitute of any kind of sweetener for milk, coffee, juices, and other refreshing drinks,” says Marcelo.

“We ensure the rapadura sugar is only processed at low temperatures, so the natural ingredients are retained. It also has a low glycaemic index and is high in antioxidants and essential vitamins like A, B1, B2, B6, niacin and iron.”

Workers at the plantation are employed year-round and receive “considerably higher wages” compared to the Brazilian minimum wage.

“Workers are provided houses on the farm with running water and electricity. Additional benefits supplied by Emile include free medical treatment for the workers and free education for the workers’ children, training courses on healthy nutrition, childcare and environmental consciousness,” Marcelo says.

He says the Jacutinga farm’s supply is the only sugarcane estate in Brazil that’s 100 per cent traceable.

“Their terroir allows them to mature the sugarcane and extract the juice when the sugarcane is fully ripe. Those small but important points ensure our drinking chocolate is the best in the market,” says Marcelo.

According to the Canopy Cocoa Founder, coffee and cocoa are interconnected, and not just because they’re used for hot drinks. The two crops face many of the same social and environmental issues, setting the stage for the coffee industry to embrace more sustainable cocoa.

“Canopy Cocoa is the perfect choice for health-conscious, ethical consumers. No more feeling guilt about indulging in the comfort of a delicious, warming hot chocolate. Plus, you know you’re supporting indigenous farmers to protect the Amazon Forest,” Marcelo says.

“Canopy Cocoa starts with a conscious choice and finishes with a decadent, healthy hot chocolate experience.”

For more information, visit www.canopycocoa.com.au

This article appears in the October 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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