By / April 21, 2020

Puerto Rican cannabis chocolate makes the leap to the Californian market

From being on the verge of disappearing after the impact of Hurricane Maria, the Jíbara chocolate – manufactured with fine cocoa from Colombia and infused with cannabis – found new success after it began an export operation to California, the medical cannabis capital.

This was shared by C.J. Acosta, who together with the experienced chocolatier Pedro Currán, of Bajarí Handcrafted Chocolates, created the product that began to be sold in dispensaries in Puerto Rico in 2018.

“We are the first local brand to do this, and even more so in the largest market in the United States,” said Acosta.

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California, the new frontier for Jibara’s cannabis infused chocolate

Because interstate commerce of cannabis and shipping is still illegal, Jíbara exports the chocolate without the cannabis infusion. The company connected with a manufacturer that infuses Jibara’s chocolate with cannabis in California. “Once finished, it retains its brand identity, like the labels and name, because they seek to control all possible factors to make Jíbara a product consistent in taste and quality, both in Puerto Rico and California,” Currán said.

To do so, after partnering with the California manufacturer, Jibara went through an exhaustive training process with its business partner to ensure that consistency. “It is a product that already has its loyal and specific audience,” a phenomenon they want to cultivate in the California market as well, mainly in San Francisco, said Acosta.

To differentiate themselves in an already mature and competitive market, the partners are betting precisely that their target audiences – particularly women over 40 with a demanding palate – will detect the difference in texture and flavor of Jíbara chocolate.

Jibara’s plan to enter an already mature market

“We noticed that the chocolates tasted like cannabis extract, like bitter,” Currán recalled. So, during the development of the product, they achieved “a taste of the flower (of cannabis), but subtle, more chocolatey,” shared the expert chocolatier who has led the Bajarí operation for 10 years.

In addition to Currán and Acosta, César Cordero, an expert with a license to manufacture cannabis products, also participated in the creation process.

For quality control and to maintain consistency in the product, the partners emphasized that manufacturing is in small runs and that they do not take shortcuts.

“We control the whole process,” said Currán. The starting point is the seed, which the company’s owners select from crops located in municipalities like Moca, Añasco and Las Marías.

Similarly, they take care of the roasting and the relationships with the farmers who supply them, paying fair market prices with the aspiration that more and more is to be planted there. That is because, as he acknowledged, the lack of quality raw material is a limiting factor for their plans to continue growing and exporting.

“We have to promote cocoa and increase the capacity to produce high quality cocoa. It is a crop that makes money for the farmers,” Acosta said.


(Featured image by Alexander Stein via Pixabay)

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