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Through Tava, Langdon Stevenson and Samantha Madell have proven that high quality products and strong business ethics can happily coexist.
(Visit our Guiding Principles page to read more about our ethical commitments)
Sam describes where Tava began ...
It was late 2003 and I was at work, with Triple J radio playing in the background. On that fateful day, Steve Cannane's current affairs program included a story about some cocoa growers in Bougainville who were struggling to re-establish international trade after many years of devastating civil war. Having studied agricultural science and social anthropology at university, the story struck a chord with me. Like most Westerners, I knew a lot about eating chocolate, but had never given much thought to the people who grow the cocoa that gets turned into chocolate.
When I got home, I mentioned the story about the poverty-stricken farmers to Langdon, the resident entrepreneur. Lang promptly called a bold idea into existence: "We could give cocoa growers in the South Pacific a new market. We could buy cocoa from them at a fair price, and turn it into fine chocolate!"
As we travelled down the long road towards knowing everything there is to know about cocoa and chocolate, plenty of people along the way told us it couldn't be done. But more importantly, some people - most notably Grahame and Rosie Hack of Santo Exports in Vanuatu, and New York's "chocophile", Clay Gordon - believed that it could be done, and provided lots of practical support and advice along the way.
Where Tava is now ...
In mid-2005, we moved out of Sydney, and into a charmingly ugly factory in Kandos. Kandos is a small town (population: just over 2000) in central western New South Wales.
News travels fast in a small town, and Tava's premises quickly became known as "the chocolate factory", long before the first chocolate bar was produced.
We consider Kandos a well-kept secret; nestled at the foot of Mount Coomber Melon, Kandos sits on the western rim of the world's second-largest canyon (Capertee Valley).
Of the few people who've heard of Kandos, most think of it as an industrial town, famous for producing cement from the local limestone. Some of Kandos's more illustrious neighbours include the Mudgee wine region, and the historic towns of Gulgong and Rylstone.
The Cocoa Communiqué
Lang & Sam meet some cocoa growers in a remote part of Vanuatu
Three reasons not to grow cocoa commercially in Australia
Sam becomes one of 500 million people to catch malaria in 2005
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