Day 3 - Tropentag 2023, Tropentag2023

Chocolate bean endangerment: an immersive food and sound experience

What is better than chocolate ice cream? Or a hot chocolate on a cold, winter day? Or a box of Belgian chocolates? Or even a fudgy and decadent chocolate brownie?
We can all agree that chocolate is one of the biggest life pleasures and a part of the everyday life of many. But this year Tropentag, through an immersive multisensory activity, immersed the participants in a new, unique, and comprehensive experience in the world of cacao. Fasten your seatbelts and follow along the sweetest ride.

I walked into a dark room with my eyes closed. I could hear birds roosting in the pleasant waves of wind. Surrounded by this unique environment, I tasted fresh cocoa beans. The first bite was enough to stimulate my sensory buds as it never happened before. It was a burst of flavour, that threw me into an out-of-body experience. All of a sudden, I was in a cacao tree forest, and the nature surrounding me was hugging me with a distinct, bitter cacao flavour.
The birds chirping got louder and more persistent, and a new sound caught my attention. Someone was cutting down the cacao. It was a soothing sound, and the thought of the cacao bean was mouthwatering. And all of a sudden, my eyes were open again. And in front of me, they are mixing an artificial cacao with water. I tasted it. “Where is my real cacao?”, I was internally screaming. Artificial cacao didn’t cut it for me anymore.

We are at risk of having to learn how to appreciate artificial cacao flavouring because climate change is endangering cacao plantations, together with deforestation and over-exploitation of natural resources.

The “Cacao: The Sound of Extinction” project was a collaboration between food designer Inés Lauber and sound composer Alexei Galar. The project was supported by Original Beans (single-origin chocolate and cacao beans) and Barsega Gallery Studio (ceramics).

Photo credits: Studio Inés Lauber