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We scour the globe looking for the finest cocoa beans from the best suppliers. Along with Ghana, we source beans from our Pacific Neighbours in Samoa and have explored South America, cocoa’s ancestral home, to bring you beans from Nicauragua. Our chocolate journey has taken us to all corners of the globe but once the cargo reaches New Zealand soil, the real adventure begins.
Native to the Americas, cocoa was first enjoyed as a ceremonial drink in pre-Columbian cultures. Once the Spanish conquerors took the drink back to Europe, where sugar was added, it quickly grew in popularity. When a Ghanaian farmer, Tetteh Quarshie, journeyed to Fernando Po (a Spanish colony), he brought back some cocoa beans to plant with the hope of boosting the Ghana economy. The rest, as they say, is history.
A lot of Cocoa Beans mean a lot of husks. So to make the most of our precious cocoa pods, we pass the husks on to a local garden centre for their use.
J. H. always knew that you can’t make the best chocolate unless you make everything from scratch. So we still always start with the finest ingredients. We seek these out all over the world. Most of our cocoa beans come from Ghana, but we also source uniquely flavoured, high quality beans from other locations. Follow us on the journey to our home in Porirua, New Zealand.
For most of our chocolate the story begins in the cacao plantations of Ghana. It’s here that plump cocoa pods (shaped a bit like a rugby ball) are selected and harvested carefully by hand.
The farmers split pods into two and there, inside, the treasure lives. Around 20 to 60 beans can be extracted from each pod. These are then fermented to stop them germinating, and dried in the hot African sun.
The beans are packed into sacks and shipped by boat directly to our factory in the world’s chocolate capital, Porirua.
Now the batch-roasting begins - a very good time to be driving past our home if you love the smell of warm chocolate! We are the only major chocolate-maker in New Zealand who imports whole cocoa beans and roasts them, giving us full control over the quality of our chocolate.
‘Nibs’ are approximately half cocoa butter and half cocoa mass, and they are slowly ground over and over again until they turn into a rich liquid called ‘cocoa liquor’. It’s a treat to watch - smooth and brown, it flows beautifully by the time the refining process is finished. At Whittaker’s we keep the butter and mass together, which is why our chocolate is as good as it gets.
Once the chocolate is milled to be super smooth and even, it is tempered to give it the beautiful, satisfying snap when you break it off. As it cools we pour it into our unique moulds. Here it is gently shaken so that it settles and firms until finally, we wrap it in our iconic gold foil.
What started with a bean is finally a delicious bar. We wrap it (using some of the world’s most precise machines) and now, at last, it is ready to leave our home and make its way to yours.