Papua New Guinea
Charley’s sources its cocoa from Karkar Island, 30 kilometres from the mainland and just north of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) capital Port Moresby.
PNG has a tropical climate. Monsoons drive its extreme rainfall variations. The dry season is from June to December and the rainy season from December to March, with relative humidity between 70 and 90 percent. Annual rainfall in Madang province, which includes Karkar Is, is 3,000mm to 4,000mm, similar to Mission Beach (3,410mm)
Ripe cocoa pod grown on Karkar Island
PNG produces just under 1% of the world’s cocoa crop which, in 2019/20, equated to 40,000 metric tonnes. Cocoa is PNG’s third largest agricultural export.
Charley’s has a rich history in PNG. Our first chocolate bar was made from PNG cocoa beans, imported from the Madang province. Soon PNG chocolate became a favourite of Charley’s customers for its rich bold flavours. The cocoa seeds we planted at Charley’s Mount Edna Mission Beach plantation in 2012 were hybrid varieties of Trinitario and Forestero from the Cocoa Coconut Institute research station at Madang.
Hannah Wheaton, Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Program Advisor to PNG, introduced us to growers from Karkar Island. Karkar Island’s rich volcanic soils and warm tropical climate nurture some of the world’s best copra plantations and creates some of the world’s best chocolate. It inspires our Karkar Island 70% dark chocolate, which is rich and full bodied and our 52% Karkar Island milk chocolate, which is often described as ‘decadent’.
In 2017 Lynn was invited as a judge to PNG’s inaugural Cocoa Show- Cocoa Warwagira- held in Kokopo near Rabaul. The Show aimed to lift PNG’s cocoa quality to international standards and improve its export potential. UK based global cocoa and chocolate expert, Martin Christy headed team of judges, including Lynn.
The judging process is complex, beginning with the beans, then the chocolate and cocoa liquor. The judges engaged in a blind tasting (no plantation names were revealed). They evaluated more than 80 cocoa samples over three days. When the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners were announced, Lynn was absolutely delighted that Charley’s Karkar Island chocolate won the Silver Medal–an exciting moment!
Lynn Jahnke being welcomed by local school students at PNG's Cocoa Show
In July 2019, Lynn returned to PNG to judge the second Cocoa Show with Luke Spencer from Spencer Cocoa NSW. They were impressed by the big improvements in flavour achieved by local farmers in just two years. Charley’s continues to support PNG and the has also imported beans from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.