Chocolate-maker Liz Rowe with a block of her Ocho
chocolate, made from Papua New Guinea cocoa beans, at the
Otago Chocolate Company in South Dunedin this week. Photo
by Stephen Jaquiery.
Life is sweet for Liz Rowe. The Dunedin
confectionery-maker has been raising the bar for chocolate
lovers and Fair Trade.
''I was really keen to make a single-origin, bean-to-bar
chocolate, so people could see where they came from,'' Ms
Rowe said this week.
''I'm really big on strong regional economics and I wanted to
stay in the Pacific rim and focus on small bean growers and
After sourcing beans in Papua New Guinea, she found the
locals were equally happy to be part of the project.
''They were so excited when I went over there. There was a
big banner across the road saying 'Welcome Otago Chocolate'.
I think they thought I was Mrs Cadbury, or something,'' she
said, with a laugh.
For the past three months, Ms Rowe has been making her Ocho
brand chocolate from wagi, gogal naru and kiram beans in an
industrial kitchen at Cargill Enterprises in South Dunedin.
It takes up to 36 hours to produce a batch. The beans must be
roasted, cracked and winnowed, before being spun in large
Indian lentil grinders warmed with fan heaters.
''The chocolate is single-origin, so every bar can be traced
back to the particular farmer co-op in PNG where the beans
came from,'' Ms Rowe said.
''It's been a lot of fun. I've now done four weeks selling at
the Otago Farmers' Market and it's been brilliant. People
have been so interested and supportive.
''I think part of the reason it's been so popular is because
it's only made with two ingredients: cocoa beans and sugar.
Most other chocolate has soy lecithin, vanilla and, often,
cocoa butter added.''
White Rabbit Cacao, in Bannockburn, was one of the first
artisan chocolate makers in New Zealand to focus on
bean-to-bar, single-origin chocolate.