Philosophy Felix_cooperative_jordibordas

Meeting the Felchlin’s Cacao Hunter


Felix Inderbitzin has an enviable job: he is the Felchlin‘s Cocoa Hunter. He has been working for this company for 25 years and has been travelling around the world looking for the best cocoa beans. He works hand in hand with the cooperatives and producing communities in order to get the beans with which Felchlin makes its chocolate in Switzerland.

He is an open book about the cocoa but also about human relations, two key pillars for this chocolate company of which Jordi Bordas is the Global Ambassador.

How do you choose the area and the communities you want to work with?

At the beginning, when we began with that, we had to look for humanitarian organisations which agreed to establish partnership agreements to buy cocoa beans. Years later, thanks to the good work, the communities are now the ones that look for us. I, as the Felchlin’s Cacao Hunter, receive many e-mails from people showing interest for Felchlin who wish to work with us.

The Felchlin’s Cacao Hunter, Felix, in a cocoa plantation

Which are the requirements these communities have to meet?

The most important thing is transparency. They must be strong and well-organized communities and cooperatives.

We have sometimes met fragile organisations, or where the laws of the countries force them to change the management in very short periods of time. For us, this is a problem as we wish to establish long-terms agreements, and this is the reason why we offer purchase contracts that meet their needs.

And with cocoa beans, what do you need?

With cocoa it is important that the communities employ qualified people, who know well the cocoa processes.

The cooperatives Felchlin works with are made up of families that bring their hectares of land. There, they grow their cocoa according to what they know and then they take the beans to common fermentation and drying centres.

We do not directly work with plantations, except in Dominican Republic, from where we get the beans for our Elvesia. The other organisations are small.

What is the advantage in working with small communities? Don’t they produce less cocoa?

Felchlin does not produce excessive quantities of chocolate. We produce enough quantity to guarantee a very high-standard final product that also assure the sustainability of our working system, in the cooperatives as well as in the strict quality controls.

The big companies produce big quantities of cocoa and cannot meet the demand of personalization that we need to keep our quality standards. Working with small companies enables us to establish higher quality parameters.

The Felchlin’s Cacao Hunter, Felix, during one of the process of the cocoa

What advantages have the producers who work with Felchlin?

They value the long-term agreements we offer them, as well as the price we pay for their cocoa beans, which is also high. This allows them to make long-term plans and to rest assured that they can, for example, apply for credit to invest in their farm.

They value the long-term contracts we offer them, as well as the price we pay them for their cocoa beans, which is also high. This allows them to make long-term plans and ensure that they can, for example, take out a loan to invest in their crops.

Is Felchlin with the producers during the growing, collecting, fermenting and drying processes?

We fully trust the knowledge and experience of the people we work with. They produce their beans according to their criteria.

However, when checking the quality, if we detect beans that do not comply with our requirements, we propose them to carry out some modifications in their drying parameters, to change their boxes, etc.

We also give them our contacts throughout the world to solve any problem or to improve their production.

Which place of origin do you remember most?

Ecuador! We arrived there 12 years ago and we were the first ones. For us it was something special as it was the first time we were directly buying at the place of origin. We made contacts based on confidence, open and steady communication and this marked our way of working with the communities.

What do you like most in your job?

As Felchlin’s Cacao Hunter, the cocoa. Obviously! And the people. The cocoa is a magic product: I have been working many years with it and I can say that I know many things about it, but you never know why something that unexpected happens.

Cocoa is part of the nature and many things, as experts as we may be, remain baffling. And I have now friendly relationships with people. Though we have to do business, of course! But our motto is that we have to reach agreements of which both parts take advantage.

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