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10 years climate impact

Emission-free, Cocoa origins


October 20th, 2021

At Chocolatemakers, we have 10 years of making an impact and bringing about real change on the counter. And yes, we do that by making delicious chocolate. Chocolate where taste is key. We believe that the right choice can be - and MUST be - the tastiest choice. Only then will consumers make the right choice in the supermarket with a smile.

Real change and sustainable choices were already important ten years ago, but the recent UN climate report shows that it is no longer a choice, but an absolute necessity. We can no longer afford to damage our planet's crucial ecosystems. Companies can do much to positively influence climate change. All companies, not just charities. Chocolatemakers is not a non-profit organisation, not a charity and not a hobby. We are proof that with honest, sustainable and smart business practices, you can definitely be a profitable company. But one that contributes to the solution, not the problem.

The forest stays as long as it pays'.

Cocoa cannot grow everywhere. The trees are dependent on the tropical rainforest climate and the presence of spider monkeys who, because they can hang onto the tree with their tails, have their hands free to break open the pods and eat the pulp. The seeds fall to the ground in the process - this is the only way the cocoa trees can reproduce. 

The deforestation of rainforests is a way of generating income for the local population. By planting a buffer zone of cocoa trees at the edge of the rainforest (with enough shade plants for a diverse ecosystem), income can be generated without having to cut down the rainforest. That is where the real change happens. An alternative to deforestation, the only way to protect the rainforest.

Every origin is different

We source our cocoa beans from four different origins: Congo, Peru, Colombia and from the Dominican Republic. Each region and ecosystem has its own challenges and needs. Read here what we are doing in each origin to bring about real change.

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This is where our chocolate adventure began. In one of the most important ecosystems in the world: Virunga National Park on the border with Uganda. Not only an important ecosystem, but also the place where half of the remaining mountain gorillas live. Their habitat is also threatened by deforestation.

The cocoa is a source of income for the farmers in the region with whom we work closely. This eliminates the need for deforestation, keeps the Virunga National Park intact and protects the last habitat of the mountain gorillas.

The surcharge we pay for the cocoa is used to give people access to medical care locally. Recently, a university was opened where farmers receive training and guidance in the establishment and management of the plantations, the fermentation and drying of cocoa. This is done through the 'Farmer Field Schools' where knowledge is shared and mutual cooperation is promoted.

And don't forget: our chocolate is organic. That means that no pesticides may be sprayed. The spraying of pesticides often happens in Africa, especially in West Ghana and Ivory Coast, and it is done by children, according to the UN one of the worst forms of child labour. So always make sure you buy organic chocolate.

Every bite increases the impact: shop the Congo bars here.

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Our organic Fairtrade cocoa is grown by the Awajún along the banks of the Cenepa and Rio Santiago rivers in the Amazon Rainforest. The Awajún community numbers over 65,000 people and traditionally lives from slash and burn agriculture, i.e. deforestation. The growing population is increasing pressure on the forest. 

They are members of the NorAndino cooperative, an organisation with about 5000 members including 1800 cocoa farmers, spread across northern Peru. In the Amazon rainforest, too, deforestation is a source of income; cocoa is an alternative to it and replaces deforestation as a source of income. It reduces the need for "slash and burn" agriculture, thus ensuring the survival of the rainforest.

Besides protecting the Amazon rainforest, we are working with NorAndino on a very special project. Together with them we have built a real chocolate factory there, their own cocoa factory with a modern production line. This allows the farmers there to make their own chocolate and be an active part of the cocoa chain.

Julio Peña Cordoba from Bajo Charanal, Piura, Peru:

Because we have our own modern chocolate factory, we - as cocoa farmers - can also become chocolate makers for the first time. In this way, we are building a stronger position in the cocoa industry. That gives us great opportunities for the future.

Every bite increases the impact: shop the Peru bars here.

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The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is one of the most important ecosystems we have and is the highest mountain range in the part of Colombia where our delicious criollo cocoa comes from.

 It is home to a unique biodiversity and is of great value to local communities such as the Arhuaco tribe. This is where the delicious criollo cocoa comes from.

Cocoa planting on the edges of the park keeps the landscape intact and restores it. A buffer zone is created around the protected national park. The organic cultivation techniques and the planting of shade trees contribute to a better soil quality.

The beans of the high-quality Criollo cocoa have a beautiful, rich and complex taste. 

Originally, a lot of coffee was grown in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta nature reserve. Women have been running the coffee cooperative CooAgroNevada since the civil war. From 2016, we bought special organic coffee from them. This dependence on coffee was a risk.

The farmers were looking for help to expand their activities. In consultation with Stichting Progreso, the cooperative researched cocoa trees and found that indigenous (high-quality) Criollo cocoa still grows in the backyards of farmers in Colombia's Sierra Nevada region.

They now grow coffee and cocoa. Both are organic. We buy the cocoa at a fair price. That gives the farmers more security. Together with the women's farmer cooperative Cooagronevada, to which more than 5000 farmers belong, we create buffer zones around the rainforest with cocoa trees to make deforestation unnecessary.

Every bite increases the impact: shop the Colombia bars here.

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Dominican Republic

This is where our iconic bars with the sailing ship come from. And why is there a sailing ship on the packaging? Because the cocoa beans are sailed all the way to Amsterdam at wind power for 4-6 months on board the legendary Tres Hombres. In Amsterdam, by the way, the cocoa beans are further processed on solar energy. Cocoa does not grow in Europe, so transport by container ship always has a real CO2 footprint. Because of the location of the Dominican Republic and the heroes of the Tres Hombres crew, we can produce the most sustainable chocolate, emission free. 

Every bite increases the impact: shop the Dom.Rep. bars here.

As you can see, each region has its own needs and circumstances. And in every region, in addition to the impact on nature and the climate, we also take care of the people and that they earn a living. But what applies in all cocoa-growing regions is that preserving the rainforest and combating deforestation must be given the highest priority.

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