Joaihú, direct-origin, tree-to-bar chocolate from the old-growth rainforest in Bahia, Brazil, is now available in stores throughout Central Texas and will become available online across the U.S.
“The story behind Joaihú is rich, much like the flavor it draws from the soil of the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest," says Austin native and songstress Kate Robberson, CEO. "It’s an honor to continue to build bridges between communities through sharing culture, art and now chocolate.”
Robberson’s business partner and Joaihu’s co-founder, Charles Stewart, have each traveled the world pursuing their individual passions: biology, music, community building, language, herbal medicines, and, eventually, cacao. They saw how deforestation and other unsustainable harvest methods were running rampant in the region and wanted to create a better, more equitable way for the earth and local community to share the tradition and artistry of chocolate. From there, the two chose to plant their chocolate grove in a climate that would yield craft-quality cacao and simultaneously allow them to bolster climate protection efforts.
“Most people know of the Amazon Rainforest, but it’s not the only rainforest in Brazil,” Stewart said. “The Atlantic Coastal Rainforest isn’t as big, but it’s one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth."
Joaihú is an ancient Tupi word that means "to love and be loved.” It's a verb, a way of being, and a mutual care and respect that serves as the guiding philosophy for how the company treats its workers, its customers, and the earth. Joaihú is also the middle name of Stewart’s newborn son.
“I built this business with my son in mind,” Stewart said. “I want it to be sustainable — not just ecologically, but in every aspect: socially, economically, environmentally, personally — so that it will not only benefit my family, but the community at large, for generations.”
He and Robberson ensure their entire team works in only the safest conditions and earns more than fair wages.
Joaihú’s farm, Fazenda Boa Vista, enjoys sweeping views of the rainforest and ocean, far from harmful toxins and pollution. To honor the surrounding ecosystem, Stewart enlisted a pair of visionary farmers to mentor him and help strategically design an agroforestry project that supports the forest’s natural rhythms. Their farmers are intentionally trained to be minimal and non-invasive in their maintenance of the grove, carefully trimming rotting limbs and only using organic methods of fertilization to keep the trees healthy and strong.
“We wanted to take a holistic approach to agriculture,” Stewart said. “One that focuses on the interconnection of farming systems with the ecological system as a whole.”
The farm’s zero carbon footprint, regenerative agriculture practices and encompassing state-recognized wildlife preserve all speak to Joaihú’s commitment to serve as stewards of the earth. Joaihú aims to work in harmony with nature, respecting the give and take between harvest and growth instead of trying to standardize it.
“Like wine, cacao expresses the flavors of the terroir in which it’s grown,” Robberson said. “Brazil produces exquisite cacao, so we make our chocolate accordingly — in a way that showcases its unique characteristics.”
Joaihú produces one of the purest expressions of Brazilian cacao on the market. Its chocolatier, Diego Badaró, minimizes additives to focus on the cacao trees as the primary source of flavor, meaning that vintages differ. The brand currently offers three percentages of chocolate ranging in intensity from 75% to 85% and 100%. Each bar is wrapped in fully compostable packaging and share the nutrient-rich flavors imparted by the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest.
Joaihú Craft Brazilian Cacao is now distributed in stores across Central Texas, including Central Market, Tiny Grocer, Thom’s Market, Quickie Pickie, Try Hard Coffee and Dia’s Market. It is also available nationwide with direct-to-consumer shipping.