To turn chocolate into a force for tropical reforestation. Harper Macaw is a fine chocolate venture founded by a Brazilian chocolate maker and a U.S. Marine Veteran with an ambitious yet tangible objective.
The delicate cacao plant is dependent on healthy rainforest for its quality and survival, and in turn, tens of millions of people across the world rely on producing cacao for their livelihoods.
DIRECT TRADE: Harper Macaw travels to all of their sources and gets to know their practices intimately. They purchase beans directly to ensure farms are compensated for their extra attention to detail. They pay premiums that are on average double the market rate and 15 times Fair Trade premiums.
FINE FLAVOR: Fine cacao is far from a commodity. Their producers are at the avant-garde of cacao agroforestry, with crop maintenance and pre and post-harvest practices that not only yield tremendous quality but are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Founders Colin & Sarah Hartman
More than just an indulgence, chocolate in its finest form is an edible work of art. Meticulously crafted in their Washington, D.C. factory, Harper Macaw chocolate is imbued with a distinctive Brazilian flavor profile.
PRECISION AND PROCESS
State-of-the-art tech and traditional European methods develop chocolate with delectable flavor, aroma, and texture.
Their chocolate is made from purely cocoa and cane sugar (their milk chocolates contain milk, of course). Harper Macaw lets their beans tell their story.
Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of Earth’s top biodiversity hotbeds, is over 90% gone.
HOW IT WORKS: Every Harper Macaw product restores and protects deforested or vulnerable rainforest in northeast Brazil. Through partnerships with "Instituto Uiraçu", and "American Bird Conservancy", "Rainforest Trust" they reinvest in the expansion of , "Reserva Serra Bonita" a cutting-edge rainforest conservation initiative.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: It’s Earth’s second most threatened terrestrial biome and its richest zone is also the focal point of Brazil’s cacao industry. Without dramatic efforts to restore the Atlantic Forest, there may not be future for Brazil’s cacao economy and the region’s vast biodiversity. Innovative approaches in cacao and chocolate can turn the tide.
What does chocolate have to do with rainforests and conservation?
Chocolate is made from the processing of cocoa beans, which are the seeds of the cacao fruit that grows on the theobroma cacao tree. The cacao tree is native to the tropics. It grows between 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The tree and its fruit, the seeds of which become cocoa beans, are delicate and require the proper shade, moisture, and soil quality provided by rainforest plants. Without this healthy environment the tree and its fruit cannot survive. Rainforest destruction for field agriculture, cattle pastures, and urban development are amongst the greatest threats to rainforest, and therefore cacao survival. The cacao tree’s ideal climate is within tree canopy and therefore cacao production is an ideal practice for sustainable agroforestry. You see - If you love chocolate… well, you better love the rainforest.
Is Harper Macaw chocolate certified organic?
Currently none of their cacao sources are certified organic. There are several reasons for this. First, much of the cacao in the northern Amazon region of Brazil is organic, but the farms do not carry certification because of their remote location, which makes agricultural certifications even more expensive to farmers than they already are. Second, even if cacao is grown organically on a plantation, it may not be able to receive USDA organic certification because other crops in the area may have had certain fertilizers and pesticides applied to them. Finally, the cacao industry in northeastern Brazil (the country’s main cacao producing region) is in the midst of recovery from a fungal infestation called Witches Broom that devastated its cacao production during the 1980’s and 90’s. Most farms in this region use fertilizers and some pesticides that preclude their participation in the program.
Is the chocolate certified Fair Trade?
Harper Macaw does better than that as they source cocoa beans Direct Trade and pay premiums that exceed those of Fair Trade by an average of 15 times! Direct Trade means that they establish relationships with all farms from whom they purchase, using their own criteria to judge the quality of the operations in terms of labor and environmental practices, and Harper Macaw deposits payments directly into the bank accounts of their farms, without any middle men to take a cut.
Why is the chocolate and that of other craft chocolate makers so much more expensive than chocolate found in most supermarkets?
Craft chocolate makers typically use fine cacao, which requires much more careful and intensive cultivation, farm maintenance, land management, selection, fermentation, and drying practices. Most chocolate is made from commodity grade cacao, which includes all the rotting and low grade beans whose poor flavor is masked by lots of sugar and other additives. Fine cacao is often times at least twice as expensive as commodity grade cacao. Further, craft chocolate makers use other higher quality materials as well, such as cane sugar, high quality inclusions such as vanilla, coffee, and fruit, as well as high-end packaging. Finally, and probably most significantly, craft chocolate makers actually make their own chocolate. They have small hands-on chocolate making operations with lots of employees. Most brands found at supermarkets do not make their own chocolate. Instead, they outsource production to huge co-packers and mass-manufacturing facilities. These companies are effectively marketing firms that never touch a drop of chocolate from the time the beans arrive at a processing facility to the time it arrives on store shelves. Think of those economies of scale! At those low prices you sacrifice a lot of quality.
How can I best pick up on the subtle differences in the bars?
When you taste a chocolate bar it is important to limit your distractions. Chocolate begins to melt when it hits your palate so it is recommended you chew only a couple of times and then allow the chocolate to melt on your mouth. Feel the texture; determine if it is fruity, nutty, roasted, earthy or floral and then see if you can pick out the specifics. What are the beginning notes vs. the middle or end notes? How sweet or bitter, acidic or astringent is the chocolate? What do you prefer about one bar over another? And as always, practice makes perfect!
How should I store my chocolate?
Store chocolate bars between about 60 and 65°F (about 16 – 18°C). Heat and/or direct sunlight can slowly deteriorate chocolate’s aroma, flavor and texture. Ideally, the relative humidity should be below 50%. Excess moisture can condense on the bar and draw out the sugar onto the surface, causing unsightly bloom (harmless but disturbs the silky texture of fine chocolate). Last, avoid storing chocolate near strong odors like coffee or garlic because chocolate absorbs strong odors like a sponge. Consider a cool closet, dry basement or wine cooler to hide your treasures.
Are Harper Macaw products Vegan/ Kosher/ Gluten Free?
All plain chocolate bars and discs are vegan, with the exception of the milk chocolates, which contain milk. A kosher food is one that has been certified by a rabbinical authority as compliant with Jewish dietary laws. Harper Macaw cocoa beans have not been certified kosher by a rabbinical authority, so their products are not certified kosher. All of the plain chocolate bars and discs are gluten-free. Check the packaging of any product for specific ingredients.
How does my purchase help conservation efforts in the Atlantic Rainforest?
Every Harper Macaw product restores and protects deforested or threatened rainforest in northeast Brazil. For every product you purchase, they donate a portion of sales to their partners on the ground in Brazil. On average, one chocolate bar adds 30 square feet of land to Reserva Serra Bonita, a private natural heritage preserve in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest that is managed under the stewardship of Instituto Uiraçu.
Why are different animals portrayed on the packaging?
Harper Macaw has picked animals which represent the biodiversity in Brazil’s rich Amazon and Atlantic Rainforests and which appear on the IUCN Red List Category. Showcasing them in their packaging is a simple form to raise awareness of threats to faunal biodiversity in the regions they source from. The Golden Headed Lion Tamarin is considered one of the world’s most endangered mammals and is considered a cultural symbol of Brazilian biodiversity. The Blue Hyacinth Macaw is considered an endangered species, along with many other of its macaw cousins. The beautiful Panthera Onca Jaguar is a species listed as near threatened. As for the brightly colorful Poison Dart Frog, 25% of its 200 species are endangered or threatened. The common denominator to each of their biodiversity threats is habitat loss.
What does Harper Macaw do with the husks’ residues?
Harper Macaw donates their cocoa shells to Eco City Farms, a wonderful farming and educational project in Maryland.
How does Harper Macaw practice sustainability?
Sustainability is embedded in the DNA of their company. They are in the process of flushing out their Sustainability Matrix and will make it available to our customers soon. For now, here is a simplified sneak peek at what they are up to:
- Adherence to the B-Corporation Guidelines and projected application date for B-Certification;
- Collaboration with DCSEU throughout the build-out process to design the most efficient energy usage within their factory;
- Partnership with ECO City Farms to donate all of their cocoa shell;
- Project for move towards self-supplied sustainable (solar) energy;
- Strict policy regarding packaging and printing suppliers;
- Waste management program.
Can I recycle or compost the packaging?
Yes! You can recycle Harper Macaw chocolate paper boxes as well as their shopping bags. You can also compost their foil and our bulk pouches. The interior foil wrapping of their chocolate bars is made of wood pulp and is biodegradable and compostable. The compostable films used to manufacture the silver bags are made from a metallized material that is coated with aluminum which blocks light and increases the barrier properties of the film structure. Aluminum, a common element, in the extremely small quantities of the film coating is considered an inert substance as it goes back into the soil during home composting of the packaging materials. This allows the compostable bags to meet the ASTM 6400 standards for compostable packaging and Europe's Home Composting standards.
- Tours are held every Saturday at 1:00pm and 3:00pm at 3160 Bladensburg Rd NE Washington, DC 20018.
- Tours provide an in-depth overview of Harper Macaw sourcing, and entire chocolate-making process in Washington, DC.
- Tours are $10 per person, last about one hour, and include a chocolate tasting at the end.
- We recommend that all guests be over 8 years old for safety reasons and due to the degree of technical content covered.
- You can book a tour in advance online. Otherwise, tours are on a first-come first-served basis.
- Free parking is available outside the factory.