The production of cacao is globally concentrated in the regions between 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south of the equator, namely Central and South America, West Africa and the Caribbean. The Caribbean is held in high regard as a cacao-producing region because it yields a fine, aromatic bean. In fact, fine flavoured cacao accounts for only 5% of the world production and is concentrated in a few countries, one of which is Suriname.
It is the soil that determines the quality of the cacao bean and Suriname is perfectly positioned to generate nutrient rich soil for the native cacao tree to thrive from. The method of making Surinamese cacao, called skrati in Surinamese Creole language, has been used for centuries to produce cacao based products. However, the skrati was losing interest among many of the natives when a young artist traveled to Suriname to complete a project and fell in love with the exotic plant and its qualities in 2005. Five years later, she set out to revive the tradition and with that Tan Bun Skrati was established. As a small scale cacao enterprise, Tan Bun Skrati is a grower and processor of artisan cacao products such as tea, butter, chocolate bars, cupcakes, truffles and bonbons filled with the finest Surinamese fruit.
“The company really started as an art project, but I was so intrigued by the Surinamese cacao that I decided to explore the properties of the bean some more,” recalled Ellen Lem Ligteringen, Managing Director. “This is what motivated me to actually start to produce chocolate from the cacao.”
In the beginning there were a few challenges for the company as there were not many cacao trees available and the machines to process the bean were also inadequate. But as a sculptor, Ellen was able to make her own machines and with that the
business started to develop. Together with her husband Rutger, Ellen started creating delicately handcrafted and healthy cacao products from the kitchen of their home. There, the dynamic duo used the ancient pre-Columbian processing method that originated in the rainforests of South America and the Caribbean to produce savoury delicacies.
“Tan Bun Skrati unravels the narrative and processing method of the ancient way of making Surinamese cacao. With the cacao products we elicit a discussion about what is common, what is known and unknown, what is Surinamese and what is not. This brings particular experiences and stories about Surinamese cacao into the public space, where they meet and transform into a new narrative, which will give new meaning to the place we live in.”