Koko company continues international growth
Koko Moni, a Koko and coffee making company owned by Tuiatafu Nusi Moa Maualaivao is growing from strength to strength after forging a new partnership with a New Zealand-based confectioner.
Tuiatafu’s biggest customer in New Zealand is the couple who owns Devonport Chocolate to whom he will send a large shipment to New Zealand once lockdown restrictions are eased.
He explained that he had met the couple who owns the company when they came to Samoa through the Department of Agriculture. Tuiatafu had taken them to his Koko plantation and they had tried some of his Koko and discovered that it was just right for them.
Tuiatafu started about seven or eight years ago under a stimulus package programme of the Ministry of Agriculture promoting the planting of Koko, coffee, and coconuts.
“I started planting Koko with seedlings from this programme because they gave out seedlings,” he said.
He explained that Koko has to be fermented to remove the bitterness to develop the flavor and to reduce the amount of sugar needed.
“The Koko we have now, there are two types of beans, the white bean, and purple bean," he said.
“The fermentation of the purple bean must be seven days to reduce the bitterness," he said.
"After eight days the flavour reduces and it will then be good for chocolate making."
When asked about the origin of the name “Koko Moni” he said, “Moni is the Samoan word for ‘true’.”
“Koko Moni means it is done in the right way; to get the flavour,” he said.
According to Tuiatafu, all of the Koko is grown locally in Saleimoa and Lano.
Tuiatafu explained the history of Koko in Samoa began after five Koko varieties were brought into Samoa by the Germans in 1883 of the white bean variety and later on in 1896 the purple bean.
“Research shows that the variety that the German’s brought to Samoa are still here but are not that much anymore,” he said.
“There are a small amount of farms that I know that still have this variety. Four types are at my farm so what I am doing now is trying to propagate the seeds from these five plants and plant them in one plot. That is what I am doing now in Savaii.”
Tuiatafu has staff to pick the Koko but does most of the work himself such as processing, fermenting, sun drying, roasting, grinding, and then selling it,” he said.
He explained he has customers all over the world such as from Germany, Australia, America, and New Zealand.
“At the time I was already fermenting so then they liked the product,” he said.
Devonport had also taken part in the Great Taste Awards with the Samoan Single Origin Trinitario Coconut Milk Chocolate and had won a one-star rating in the 2017 Great Taste Awards.
“I am thankful to the Chinese Agriculture programme here, I have managed to get from them a roaster, a coffee roaster so I can use it also for roasting Koko,” he said.