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We love Tamarind Fruit – But what about the Seed?

Most people know about Tamarind fruit in some form, in Tamarind juice, in Indian chutney or curry or in good old BBQ sauce… Tamarind fruit pulp is the base for what most of us know as Tamarind.  The pulp which is rich in Vitamins and minerals boasts a whole list of health benefits by itself, helping to regulate digestion, improving blood glucose levels, blood circulation and cholesterol.  But did you know that hidden inside that tangy-sticky fruit pulp of a whole Tamarind are seeds (3-12 per pod) packed with proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids and minerals?  These little morsels of nutrition have surprising health benefits on their own!

For the Body:  Joint Relief & Other Benefits

Tamarind Seed holds great anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial benefits (1) when ingested.  Amongst its traditional uses is the treatment for joint pain and arthritis by ingesting roasted Tamarind Seed Powder.  Early research suggests that Tamarind Seed does indeed reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in joints, helping with pain and protecting bone and cartilage (2).

For Skin:  The Skin Hydration Optimizer

When applied to skin, Tamarind Seed Extract helps draw and bind vital hydration to the skin by feeding the skin’s natural moisturizing factor in the skin’s surface, similar to how Hyaluronic Acid does.  The genius lies in the molecular structure of Tamarind Seed Extract, which is able to penetrate the skin surface more deeply, resulting in deeper and more long-lasting hydration.  We use Tamarind Seed Extract in our Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner, where it is combined with Hyaluronic Acid, Green, White & Black Tea and Rice Bran Extract to draw and bind vital hydration to the skin and feed the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

Make your own Tamarind Seed Powder!

While fresh whole Tamarind is now available in many Asian and Latin grocery stores in the US, Tamarind Seeds alone or Tamarind Seed Powder are not.  Fortunately, you can make your own Tamarind Seed Powder quite easily!

  1. Buy fresh whole Tamarind and save the seeds after eating the pulp as a snack or using it for cooking.  Wash and dry the seeds with a paper towel.
  2. Roast the seeds in the oven at 300 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. Alternatively you can also roast them in a frying pain on low heat for about 5.  Let cool.
  3. Wrap the roasted seeds in a dish towel, place them on a thick wooden cutting board and roughly crush with a hammer. The kernels are very hard so you will need to use quite a bit of force.  When the Tamarind Seed cracks, the dark brown seed skin will come off, exposing the inner white seed.  Keep the brown skin.  It has nutrients as well!
  4. Grind the crushed kernels and seed skin in a coffee grinder until it is a fine powder. You will notice a nice, nutty aroma.
  5. Store in an airtight container. Keep cool and dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add 1 teaspoon of Tamarind Powder to your smoothie, juice or yogurt.  The powder does not actually dissolve in water, so I have found it easier to consume when it was suspended in a thicker medium like a smoothie or yogurt.

Enjoy experimenting!

Turmeric Bioavailability – Easy tricks to maximize its benefits

Turmeric is a key ingredient in Jamu, the ancient Indonesian herbal medicine.  Since the scientific community in European and American started taking an interest in this rhizome in the last 20th century, Turmeric has become one of the most studied herbs.  The key nutrient in Turmeric that has been shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and potential anti-cancer properties is Curcumin.  Unfortunately, the health benefits of Curcumin when ingested, cannot be fully realized because if poor bioavailability, meaning that Curcumin is quickly broken down and metabolized by the liver and intestinal walls before it can work its magic where needed.

The good news is that there are simple tricks to improve Curcumin’s bioavailability – tricks that can be done daily and easily as part of your regular diet:

1.Mix it with fat

Curcumin is fat soluble.  By combining or dissolving it with a fat, it is better absorbed into the bloodstream (1).  It’s easy:  Combine Turmeric with a heart-healthy oil in a vegetable stir fry.  Or add it to your smoothie together with coconut milk or full-fat kefir.

2.  Fresh Turmeric vs. dried Turmeric

Dried Turmeric powder is more widely available than the fresh rhizome, but fresh Turmeric actually has better “built-in” bioavailability (2) because is about 10% fat content.

3.  Heat it up

Bioavailability of Curcuma is even further improved, when Turmeric is lightly heated in oil (3), which is why Turmeric is ideal to incorporate into your daily cooking, whether it is a stir fry or a curry sauce.

4.  Add a dash of Black Pepper

Black pepper contains piperine, which blocks the body from rapidly metabolizing Curcumin.  In fact, consuming fresh black pepper together with Turmeric, can improve bioavailability of Curcumin by 2000% (4).

5.  Combine it with Quercetin-rich fruits & vegetables

Quercetin is an antioxidant that gives certain fruits and vegetables their dark, blue-ish color.  Research shows that Quercetin blocks an enzyme that would metabolizes Curcumin, thus making it more bioavailable (5).  Quercetin-rich foods include blueberries, red grapes, red onions, green tea but also red apples.

 

In Skincare – Proven Effective

Turmeric has a long tradition in Indonesian beauty rituals as well, most famously in the Lulur bridal spa treatment.  While it is an age old recipe to boost skin radiance and luminosity, there is a growing body of recent scientific evidence that underscores topical Turmeric’s benefits in helping prevent and reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, acne, and signs of premature aging such as irregular skin tone and sun damage.  When we at JUARA craft formulations, we draw our inspiration from Indonesian tradition, but we also ensure that we select botanicals that have been tested for efficacy and safety according to today’s standards.

Several of JUARA products are formulated with Turmeric, including our

Clove Flower & Turmeric Anti-Aging Serum, Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask, Radiance Vitality Oil, Sweet Black Tea & Rice Moisturizer and Miracle Tea Complete Eye Creme, but also in body treatments such as our Kartini Body Oil.

To explore JUARA treatments that feature Turmeric and other active Jamu botanicals, click here.

Candlenut: The Balanced Nut!

Candlenut holds a special place at JUARA.  Our very first JUARA product we launched was our popular Candlenut Body Creme, a.k.a. Bali in a Jar, which became an instant hit with customers, editors and estheticians alike.  By popular demand, many more Candlenut treasures followed.

But what exactly is Candlenut?  Rarely do you ever see it sold in a regular grocery store because its consumption is usually limited to the region where it is cultivated, mostly South East Asia and Hawaii.  It looks like an oversized macadamia nut or hazelnut.  Even though it is not widely known, Candlenut is probably one of the most versatile and healthy nuts out there, having been used for medicinal purposes, cooking as well as skincare for centuries.

Omega 6 & 3 Essential Fatty Acids:  The Ratio is Key

Like most nuts, Candlenut has a high oil content (70%).  What makes Candlenut special amongst its peers is its high content of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA).  And not only that, it has what is considered an ideal ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids.  While both EFAs have health benefits, it has been shown that the typical Western diet is by far too rich in Omega 6 fatty acids relative to Omega 3 fatty acid consumption, leading to chronic inflammation.  Nobody knows what the ideal ratio exactly is, but current estimates state a ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of anywhere between 1:1 and 4:1 as ideal.  It is estimated that people in developed countries reach a ratio of about 15:1.  It has been shown even higher in the typical American diet, where it reaches levels of 25:1 due to a high consumption of fast & processed foods and fried foods which are typically rich in Omega 6, and a low consumption of Omega 3-rich foods like fish and certain nuts and seeds.  Candlenut has a ratio of Omega 3 and 6 of about 1.7:1, which is considered in the ideal range.  As a comparison, Walnuts have a ratio of about 4:1, Pecans 22:1, Flax Seeds 1:4, Sunflower Seeds:  312:1, Corn Oil 46:1, Wild Salmon 1:12, Canned Tuna 1:30.

Other Health Benefits

Candlenut is also rich in saponin, flavonoid and polyphenols, plant compounds that have  anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits as well as antibacterial effects.  Plus, it contains not only alpha tocopherol (the most familiar form of Vitamin E), but also gamma tocopherol, which works synergistically with alpha tocopherol to provide antioxidant protection.

Try it in Food!

In its native Indonesian and Malay, Candlenut is used in cooking as a thickener for curries and soups.  One easy way to incorporate Candlenuts is to roasted Candlenuts in the oven or frying pan, which brings out their aroma, before chopping or shaving them and sprinkling them over curry, soups or salad.

Try it on your Skin!

Candlenut is rich in EFA, the skincare benefits of which have been well documented.  EFAs help reduce inflammation, strengthens the skin’s own protective barrier, and Omega 6 essential fatty acid specifically helps acne-prone skin clear up clogged pores.  Candlenut’s boasting both Omega-3 and 6 as well as natural anti-microbial properties make it suitable for all skin types, ranging from dry to oily, including sensitive and acne-prone skin.

All of JUARA’s Candlenut products are formulated with Candlenut Oil, but we have added this precious oil to other treatments as well, including:

Kartini Body Oil – $58, 4 oz

The luxurious body oil fit for royalty (hence the name Kartini, named after a Princess who was also a big champion of women’s rights in Indonesia).  A truly nourishing blend of Candlenut, Plumeria, Passionfruit, Moringa and Turmeric Oil, with a silky, light-as-air texture with firming, brightening and softening benefits.

Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm – $20. 2.5 oz

Pure relief and moisture for dry, hard-working hands, that stays on even after washing your hands.  A replenishing blend of oils and butters, plus soothing oat beta glucan and brightening algae Energy immediately comfort skin & cuticles.  Result:  Hands that are soft and smooth, never greasy.

Sweet Black Tea & Rice Facial Moisturizer – $60, 1.7 oz

Energy for dry, dull skin. “Kombucha”, nourishing botanical oils and our unique Radiant Complex hydrate, firm, smooth and boost skin luster.  The perfect daily moisturizer for normal to dry skin. 

Miracle Tea Complete Eye Crème – $53, 0.5 oz

This miracle worker gives the fragile skin around the eyes the whole TLC package:  It hydrates, smooths fine lines & wrinkles, reduces the look of dark circles and under-eye bags for a refreshed look!

Radiance Vitality Oil – $70, 1.0oz

The Queen of Face Oils (Face Oil of the Year, Self Magazine 2015) addresses all signs of aging with 12 pure plant oils and extracts by helping to firm, nourish, smooth and revitalize, with results you can see and feel after only one application.

Nourish your natural beauty all over with Candlenut in JUARA products here!

Love it all! Coconut Water vs. Milk vs. Oil

When I’m thirsty in Indonesia, the first thing I look for on the menu is a fresh young coconut. There’s really nothing that beats the clean, pure, and completely satisfying thirst quench that happens when the delicious juice fills your mouth. It’s a bit of a norm where I’m from, like in the same way that in a restaurant in the US you ask for an orange juice, if I’m in Indonesia at a local restaurant, I ask for a coconut.  
 
The coconut is a pretty standard ingredient of Indonesia used in very many different ways, for inside and out, beauty and health. One interesting tidbit is that Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of coconuts. We use the coconut fruit itself to make coconut milk for curries and desserts, the actual to grate as well and season to cook in savory dishes, or to roll little desserts in (called Kueh Basah – “wet cake”) and the water to drink. We use coconut oil in cooking, to eat as a health supplement, and to use in our hair to make it silky soft – and in the US, I also cook with the oil and milk, drink the water, and even use the oil in our JUARA products – like our JUARA Radiance Vitality Oil
 
There are so many uses for a coconut, but 3 main components we all talk about: the Oil, Water, Milk… do you know the difference in their health benefits? I’m curious myself!
 

COCONUT WATER

This is the water found in the young coconut before it ripens into the coconut meat itself. Coconut water has a slightly sweet taste (so not sugar-free,) contains about 94% water and very little fat. It also contains electrolytes – important in helping your body maintain its proper fluid balance. It contains potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, so next time you want to reach for that Gatorade, if coconut water is handy at the store, try for that instead! Last but not least, coconut water contains antioxidants that fight free radicals and hormone called cytokinins which help with anti-aging, so it’s a great overall health beverage that only has 45 calories a cup!
 

COCONUT MILK

Contrary to what some may think, coconut milk isn’t really a milk but water added to the grated coconut flesh. Leave it too long, and it will separate; the cream from the water – and the cream that rises to the top is also known as coconut cream. (Fun fact: Coconut milk can be made from boiling 1 part grated coconut with 1 part water. You can make coconut cream by boiling 3 parts grated coconut with 1 part water.)  It is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6, and contains minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. The interesting thing is that you hear good and bad things about coconut milk. It’s high in saturated fat (bad), however the specific fats in coconut also contain a fatty acid called Lauric acid that has several benefits which may include weight loss, and may also help protect your body from viruses and illnesses (good). So as with living a balanced healthy life, consume in moderation. 
 

COCONUT OIL

The oil is what you get when you press the fat out of the coconut meat. About 84% of the calories of coconut oil come from saturated fat, vs 14% of olive oil and 63% of butter. This is why coconut oil gets hard easily at room temperature. Neat factoid, right? However, the MCT fat in coconut oil (as well as the meat) actually has the benefit of boosting your HDL, aka your good cholesterol and being burned off as energy vs being stored like other saturated fats, though it doesn’t exactly lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) either. Repeating the moderation mantra, one should limit intake to about 13 grams a day, which is around 1 tablespoon. Cooking tip – Don’t fry or cook at high temperatures with coconut oil, as it has a smoke point of 350 degrees. (Likewise, butter and olive oil have similarly lower smoke points.) Frying has a temperature of about 350-400 degrees – so select other high-temperature tolerant oils for that, like avocado oil for best results and better health!
 

EASY HOLIDAY RECIPE

So – coconut is an all year treat – and my current obsession perfect for holidays – making my own coconut milk pumpkin spice latte! How? SUPER EASY: 
  • Combine 2 teaspoons of pumpkin puree from a can (like what you make pumpkin pies out of with 1 teaspoon of agave/sweetener and a pinch of cinnamon. Stir. 
  • Add to a hot cup of coffee – best be a stronger dark roast for a rich flavor; it just blends better with the pumpkin. Trader Joe’s has a great Gingerbread Coffee that’s just a dark roasted coffee blend mixed with holiday spices, but a good French roast will do too.  
  • Add the puree to the coffee and mix, add more sweetener as needed. 
  • Add warmed coconut milk (not from a can, but in the dairy-substitute section of milk, where the have Almond, Soy and other alternative milk) and stir. Enjoy!

Simple and Inexpensive Ideas to Make Mom Feel Extra Special

As the daughter of a mother who has always put the needs of others above her own, I am always in search of gifts that would show the love and appreciation I feel for my mom.  Wellness and self-care are high on my list, but I also know that spending time together is a big thing for my mom.  Interestingly, as a mother of 3 little kids, I crave me-time and catching up on sleep.  My mother, on the other hand, as I know a lot of mothers of grown kids do, values few things more than spending QT with her kids.  Here are some simple, inexpensive ideas to combine a beauty gift with time together.

 

1)  Give Mom a Hand Treatment

Who doesn’t love a great hand cream!  Hand Creams are amongst the most popular Mother’s Day gift ideas, but you can turn a simple hand cream into a super relaxing experience for Mom.  Next time you see her in person, sit down with her and give her a 5-minute massage.  There are a ton of how-to’s online, including this one on Wiki:  Want to take it even further?  Prep your mother’s hands and lower arm with a gentle cream scrub you can just wipe off before following with a hand cream.

Suggested Products:

Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm ($20, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Candlenut Body Crème ($35, 7.5 oz/ 213 g)

Candlenut Body Polish ($35, 7.5 oz/ 213 g)

 

2)  Found a Great Mask? Mask & Relax Together!

There is something incredibly relaxing about putting on a mask, maybe because it forces us to slow down a bit.  Why not take a 10 minute break with you Mom, apply the mask and sit down with her with a cup of soothing herbal tea!

Suggested Products:

Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Java Plum Avocado Nourishing Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Rose Willowbark Purifying Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

 

3)  Enjoy a Home Made Jamu with Mom

What’s good for health and wellness is also good for outer beauty.  Jamu, the ancient Indonesian herbal tradition goes back centuries, but you can easily re-create a simplified Jamu drink at home and enjoy with your Mom.  Pour boiling water over a few slices of fresh turmeric and/ or ginger.  Add lemon, honey and a dash of black pepper – voila!  If fresh turmeric is hard to come by, just mix some turmeric powder with honey to create a paste and drop into a cup of hot water.

Check out this detailed recipe for a quick-and-easy Jamu!

 

4)  Try Some Beginner Yoga Moves Together (or Tai Chi, Pilates, Stretches, etc.)

Perhaps your Mom already does Yoga.  Maybe Tai Chi is more up her ally – It does not really matter, as long as it is simple for both of you and creates a shared experience that allows you to be present in the moment without any of the usual distractions.

Check out these beginner poses from Health Magazine.

You can see the JUARA products here

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Turmeric in Sweets? Try these Delicious Blueberry Peach Turmeric Muffins!

We all know Turmeric from Indian, Thai and Indonesian food.  It gives curry its yellow color and adds a slightly bitter, mustardy flavor. Turmeric is also one of the most important Indonesian Jamu ingredients with all kinds of powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  But sweets?  Absolutely!  After playing around with various amounts of Turmeric and fruit combinations, I went bold – voila, curry colored muffins that are fluffy and aromatic with beautiful pops of purple color and juicy peach.

What’s key?  Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat flour to get a more delicate texture.  Buttermilk or Kefir ups the fluffiness factor.  Cinnamon and brown sugar adds depth while also balancing the assertiveness of Turmeric.  And lots of real butter….butter makes everything in life better… Enjoy for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1/4 Oat Bran

1/4 Flax Seeds

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1 tbs+1 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tbs Cinnamon

1/2 cup+1 tbs Brown Sugar

1/2 cup+ 1 tbs Butter, melted

2/3 cup Kefir or Buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Banana, ripe and mashed

1 cup Peaches, chopped (canned peaches ok)

1 cup Fresh Blueberries (frozen Blueberries seep too much juice and alter the curry color)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tray with muffin liners.

With a hand mixer, combine brown sugar, butter, buttermilk and vanilla extract until smooth.  Add eggs and mix until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients, spices and salt.  Add the dry combination to the wet mixture while continuing to blend with hand mixer.  Once the mixture is smooth and fluffy, add mashed banana and mix well.  Put away hand mixer and carefully fold in chopped peaches and blueberries.  Fill muffin cups and bake 20 minutes.  Insert a toothpick into a muffin.  If there is no dough stuck to it when you pull it out, the muffins are done.

ENJOY!

The Art of the CremeBath

Now here’s a hair/spa treatment we are missing out on in the US. Imagine having big yummy bowls of creamy, dreamy, custardy botanical hair mask slathered all through your newly shampooed hair in a gloriously revitalizing head massage as you sit and relax in a comfy chair. After 20 minutes of head heaven, your hair is then wrapped in a warm, moist steamy towel as this massage wonderfully moves to your shoulders and neck, releasing all tension and stimulating circulation in your scalp – always good for hair.  Then the massage moves down to your arms, forearms, all the way to your fingertips. Delicious olive oil and lotions are combined to create a massage oil that will give you that mmmm-give-me-more-just-right-there-oh-yes! feel as your muscles are released.

Imagine this goes on for another 45 minutes. Try not to drool from bliss. I call this heaven. The Indonesians call it a traditional cremebath.

Short of being a full spa treatment, this head-to-arm treatment is a traditional beauty ritual that you can find in many spas and salons in Indonesia. Convenient because it takes less time and doesn’t require you to disrobe, it nonetheless gives you release and pampering in just the right areas. And since we all need air hair washed, it also has a purely functional aspect to it too, rendering your hair clean, healthy and beautiful, so this treatment is very popular with the women there, myself included. After the treatment, you are served tea or Jamu, an ancient herbal health tonic, you can sip while slowly reconnecting to the world out there… where you can begin to dream about getting the next cremebath…

One can choose from a variety of conditioning masks with different traditional benefits. Their claims for the masks with following ingredients are:
Ginseng – energizing, for thinning hair
Candlenut – increases shine and darkens hair (what I chose!)
Avocado – hydrating nourishment for dry hair
Aloe Vera – straightens hair

Most salons in Indonesia offer this as a service, but for a decadent royal experience, I love the treatment at the luxurious and historical Tugu Hotel in Canggu, Bali, where you can hear the waters from the beach in the background in their open-air cabana, or also in the deliciously serene spa of The Seminyak Resort & Spa in Seminyak, Bali for a more contemporary setting. Both also offer JUARA signature treatments, however as an avid cremebather, I also recommend exploring your own locations!


The Seminyak Resort & Spa feat. JUARA

The Seminyak Resort & Spa feat. JUARA

-METTA MURDAYA

The JUARA Girls’ Favorite Products

It’s February! And to celebrate, we’re giving you 25% off on products we LOVE now through Valentine’s Day with coupon code BEMINE. These 6 JUARA Girls picked their favorite products, and they want you to fall in love with them too.

What You Need To Try

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Recipe Spotlight: Green Rice Cake

A Dessert With Leafy Greens

Ok… maybe that’s a liiiiiiiittle bit of a stretch. This dessert does use pandan leaves to get its green coloring, but that’s about as healthy as it gets. In any case, these green balls of goodness are a traditional Indonesian delicacy that I can’t get enough of. Made from sticky rice flour, smokey palm sugar, and dusted with coconut flakes, these sweet treats are sure to be a hit!

Ingredients

  • 50 gr pandan leaves
  • 100 gr grated coconut
  • 100 gr glutinous rice flour
  • 50 gr palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 gr sugar

Directions

  • In a medium sized bowl, grind the pandan leaves with a few tablespoons of water to make a green water paste
  • Mix the pandan paste, sugar, salt and rice flour together to create your dough
  • Create a small (1 inch) ball in your hands with the dough. Make a hole in the middle of the dough ball with your fingers and fill the hole with a pinch full of palm sugar. Then pinch the hole closed
  • Drop the dough balls into a pot of boiling water and cook them until they float to the top of the pot
  • Pour your grated coconut into a flat bowl. Once the dough balls have slightly cooled, dip them into the coconut gratings to fully cover.
  • Plate and serve warm!

And if you ever find yourself in beautiful Bali, make sure to stop by the Tugu Hotel for their fabulous cooking class! They’re expert chef will teach you how to make these in a traditional, balinese style.

Sabrina Mustopo: Changing the World 1 Chocolate Bar at a Time

A JUARA Indonesia Spotlight!

At 30, Sabrina Mustopo is the CEO and co-founder of Kakoa Chocolate, a 100% Indonesian bean-to-bar chocolate brand which sources cocoa beans from smallholder farmers in Sumatra. Kakoa’s two-fold mission is to create a world-class chocolate from Indonesia that can compete in the global market while improving the livelihoods of Indonesian cocoa farmers. With a degree in international agricultural and rural development from Cornell University, she went on to work as consultant for McKinsey & Company focusing on agriculture and economic development. Her work took her to agricultural projects worldwide, including Tanzania, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea.

What were you like growing up?

I was daddy’s little girl and a bit of a princess. I even had a pink princess dress. So when I told my family what I was going to do, they said why agriculture? there are bugs out there!” My father, who works in mining was most concerned. He knew it was not an easy industry and not a lot of women are involved in it.

So why agriculture?

Agriculture holds the answer to sustainable economic development. What affected me the most was the issue of hunger. So let’s think about how to solve hunger. Agriculture is the way to do it because you make more food. Economic development is linked to agricultural development which is linked to poverty.

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Farmers pruning cocoa trees

You’re worked for McKinsey & Co and are always dressed to the nines unless you’re in the field. How did the farmers react to you?

In agriculture, I’m odd in any case. It was more “who is this foreign person coming into our village?” I felt like an outsider in many counts. I look different, my Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) is terrible and I’m the wrong skin colour. It’s like why is this weird Chinese-Indonesian girl who doesn’t speak bahasa here?

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Sabrina holding court with her farmers in Lampung, South Sumatra

Why cocoa farmers specifically?

Being a farmer is a noble profession. Farmers have been long under-appreciated, do some of the hardest work and have the fewest opportunities available to them. Here, the cocoa farmers can’t get their financial needs met and there is a spread of diseases for cocoa trees in the country. So farmers are switching to growing rubber and palm oil.

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Cocoa beans in their colourful pods

How is Kakoa making a difference?

To counter these issues, Kakoa works with World Wildlife Fund and smallholder cocoa farmers in conservation areas such as the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra, where some of the last remaining Sumatran rhinos, tigers and elephants live. Since 2014, we’ve had over 60 farmers undergo an 8-week training program to improve the quality of their beans, learn farm management and how to maintain a healthy farming ecosystem. Our farmers are also paid over 3x the market price for their beans. We do this so we can influence farmer behaviour in a way no one else can. They should be given the opportunity to empower themselves.

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The end result of the farmers’ hard work

What has this journey been like for you?

It reminds me of the time I was climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I was behind the rest of the pack, slower than the rest. There’s still 7 more hours to go and every single second you’re in pain. But at no point in that journey did I want to stop. I told myself I’m going to get there but it kind of sucks right now. You just put one foot in front of the other and take the next step.

Why do you do what you do?

I believe the work we do is important on both the macro and personal level. There is a huge disconnect between people and food. Who are the people who make and grow your food? We want our consumers to get to know the farmers who grow their food, and know that they are making a real and substantial difference in their lives.

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Sabrina and her Kakoa team and WWF trainers

Learn more about Sabrina’s delicious chocolate here!

Thanks JUARA Indonesia team for introducing us to this amazing woman’s work!