Mahalaxmi sits with three other women sorting though the cocoa beans spread before them. Their brows are furrowed in concentration. A bean is chucked into the bin; too small. The other meets the same fate; too flat, a few others—broken. All these imperfect beans are eliminated from the small heap till the women are left with the richest sample at hand.
This sample of 300-odd cocoa beans will determine whether the gunny bags they fill adhere to the quality standards set by Mason & Co—a vegan, organic chocolate company in Tamil Nadu.
Started in 2014, Mason & Co is a tad different from most chocolatiers in India. Apart from the guarantee of their product being organic and vegan, the company sources all the raw materials from local farmers and empowers local women through employment.