Tonga’s Tupu’anga Coffee has partnered with Samoa’s Living Koko based in Melbourne to launch a delicious new chocolate called Koko Moka on 1 November. The rich dark chocolate bar is topped with a scattering of roasted coffee beans.  A caffeine hit — more an adult treat rather than for kiddies around bedtime.

In the past, the Pacific Islands have exported commodities such as, copra, cocoa and coffee beans.  But value-added items such as chocolate and coffee gains higher returns in the market.

The partnership is a significant forward step for the two small companies by bringing together their resources into a single product with wide international appeal.

Tupu’anga Coffee is a family owned and operated social enterprise run by Tongan couple Alipate and Emeline Afeaki Mafile’o.

The coffee is grown on their own and neighbouring plantations in Tonga. Mr Mafile’o who has a background in agriculture casts a watchful eye over every step. The coffee is collected, processed and packed by workers from the local village. The coffee is sold in their own plantation café, online and through The Community Café’s in Auckland, and a coffee outlet at the Otahuhu Bus Depot. The Tupu’anga Coffee range also includes coconut oil, cassava and taro chips, that are very popular in Tonga.

The profits from the business is ploughed back into their social enterprise Affirming Works (AW).  Mrs Afeaki-Mafile’o started the original enterprise Affirming Women as a young 25-year old in 2001. Although the name changed to Affirming Works (AW) it held true to its values supporting young people through mentoring services, programmes. The couple later bought the struggling Royal Coffee company in Tonga and opened their first café in Otahuhu. So impressed was Auckland City’s council, they asked the couple to run the Community Café’ in the Mangere Arts Centre.  Since then they added the small coffee outlet called Fale Kofi at the Otahuhu Bus Depot.

AW also celebrated an important milestone on October 5 for its 17th Anniversary.  The birthday promo drew hundreds throughout the day for a 2 for 1 cup of coffee and delightful cupcakes.

They topped it off with a 2-day weekend promotion at The Chocolate and Coffee Show in Auckland. Together with Vanuatu’s Tanna Coffee under the Pacific Trade Invest New Zealand banner they were kept busy throughout the event.  They also found that many visitors were unaware that coffee is commercially grown in Tonga, Vanuatu and other Pacific islands.

Living Koko is a Melbourne based company owned by Phoebe Preuss and partner Glenn Reiss.  According to the website – Living Koko creates markets for premium products from the Pacific Islands. They are also working closely with Samoa, Papua New Guinea growers and organisations such as Samoa Women in Business. The company are regular buyers, processing cocoa into the Living Koko range that includes Samoan Roasted Cacao Nibs, PNG 67% Dark Chocolate, Samoan 67% Dark Chocolate, Samoan cocoa beans and organic teas in different flavours.

“Ms Preuss and partners founded Living Koko from a desire to reconnect and support local people.  Her grand-father who worked in Samoa’s cacao industry early last century created the LAFI7 strain which is now used widely used across Samoa. Living Koko’s close relationship with Samoa Women in Business who proudly announced on their website Living Koko is buying between 400-500kg of cacao beans every four months.

The partnership between Tupu’anga Coffee and Living Koko highlights the potential for Pacific Island businesses to work together on developing new products aimed at the Australia and New Zealand markets. At the same time, providing real opportunities for local communities to grow economically in a win-win situation.  For Tonga and Samoa, the products are coincidentally neatly packaged in the red and blue colours for both countries. A perfect match of coffee and chocolate and possibly good signs for new product development ahead.

For more information email PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong at ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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