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Starbucks stocks up on local chocolate

Published: 
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
James Burns with his range of chocolates.

On the heels of the successful launch of his own brand of dark chocolates, young businessman James Burn has landed a deal to produce a special brand of chocolates for the local Starbucks franchise.

Burns, 28, said his venture into the agri-business started on the cocoa estate owned by his family at Gran Couva in central Trinidad where he started producing his brand of JB Chocolates just over four years ago.

Using beans from the Burns Cocoa Estate, the young entrepreneur created chocolates bars in 14 flavours.

The estate produces 1.5 tonnes of cocoa beans annually—not enough to full Burns’ production demands which require 2.5 tonnes of cocoa annually—so he purchases additional cocoa from the Montserrat Hills Cocoa Farmers Co-operative Limited.

In addition, beans from his estate are sent to the co-operative where they are fermented and roasted

According to Burns, the operators of the cooperative have the experience to get the best flavour from the beans.

The young businessman said he got involved with Starbucks after officials of the global coffee shop chain approached him at a World International Chocolate Day event hosted by the Cocoa Research Centre at The UWI more than a one year ago and asked him to create an exclusive chocolate bar featuring their coffee flavour.

Burns came up with a product created from Pike Place Coffee infused with the chocolate, where a special process is used to combine the flavours. The process take approximately three days and the product is available exclusively through Starbucks.

Burns also supplies Coverture chocolates to companies in North America and will soon be getting an export license to sell JB Chocolates globally.

Sharing his formula for success in the industry, Burns explained: “It is more profitable to get into the downstream aspects of cocoa production and entrepreneurs should start with a minimum of a five-acre estate.

Burns admitted that a cocoa estate requires a lot of hard work, but added: “The reward is great. You get to understand the true nature of the cocoa and the methods used in production.”

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