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Chocolate On The Road: Cambodia

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“For us it’s important, very important, that we protect the good name of Cambodian cacao.”

-Stefan, Co-founder of KamKav Cacao Company

Ancient temples or genocide. Those are the two most common things people seem to associate with the Kingdom of Cambodia. Located in Southeast Asia, and bordered by Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, Cambodia is so much more than its past. Visitors are now discovering the country’s burgeoning fine food culture, and the heavily rural areas behind it, one of which is growing the nation’s first cacao.

In the last year, Cambodia has seen its first real cacao harvest, and the establishment of their first bean to bar chocolate maker. In this episode, we talk to the two teams which have brought those visions to life. We get into the problems they’ve faced, their visions for the future, and how they plan to expand Cambodia’s reach in a sustainable way. If Cambodian cacao wasn’t already on your radar, it’s about to be.

To read an article on cacao culture in neighboring Vietnam, click here.

The current team over at Wat Chocolate.

Topics We Cover

  • chocolate consumption and awareness in Cambodia
  • some of the complicated and tragic history of Cambodia
  • how the first Cambodian chocolate & its cacao came to be
  • the obstacles to sustainably growing a cacao culture
  • famous products being produced in Cambodia
  • the importance of trust in getting Cambodian farmers to see the market before it even exists

Show Timeline

0:00-3:00~ Country & contextual introduction.

3:00-7:50~ Background on Stefan and Chanthol, co-founders of KamKav Company in Mondolkiri, and why they started the project in the first place.

7:50-11:45~ Diving into the basics of how Cambodia’s first chocolate makers got their start, and how they’re setting themselves up to represent the Kingdom. (Wat Chocolate)

11:45-17:10~ Building the future of Cambodia’s global reputation with cacao & eco-tourism in mind… and convincing the country’s young farmers that it’s possible. (KamKav Cacao)

17:10-24:00~ Using chocolate as a tool to teach proof of concept to potential farmers, in a country with zero history of chocolate consumption; protecting the good name of Cambodian cacao. (KamKav Cacao)

24:00-26:37~ Chanthol & Stefan’s vision for KamKav’s future in the region and across the country, & the end of the episode.

More About Our Guests

Wat Chocolate: co-founders Corinne and Gaëtan of Wat Chocolate, Cambodia’s first bean to bar chocolate company, using only directly-traded Cambodian cacao. Check out Wat’s Instagram, Facebook, and Website.

KamKav Company: co-founders Chanthol & Stefan of KamKav Cacao Farm in Mondolkiri Province, Cambodia. Together with a small group of local farmers they’re building the nation’s first cacao collective. Check out KamKav’s Instagram, Facebook, and Website.

One of the KamKav Farm buildings, where we did this interview.

Further Reading

Connect With Chocolate On The Road

On Instagram@chocolateontheroad

On Facebook: @chocolateontheroad

Show music is Roadtrip by Phil Reavis, and our transition music is We’re Gonna Be Around by People Like Us.

Also Read  Convenience Store Chocolate in Sri Lanka (Taste Test)
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Joey Musacchio

Friday 8th of November 2019

I cant wait to try Cambodian cacao beans. Vietnam is next on my list. I love the stories of how they are building these cacao farms because people like me want diverse organic cacao to make special chocolate with. It is good to know a farmer may raise their living standards because they are able to generate more money for their families and communities while improving their farming techniques because craft chocolate makers are willing to pay premium for high quality rarities.

Max

Friday 8th of November 2019

You're in for a treat (hopefully on both origin fronts!), Joey. It's always exciting to find another interesting origin story, and to be able to share it with anyone who's interested is my absolute pleasure. It's all about reinforcing positive cycles like (most of) the one sin the craft chocolate sphere!

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