Our affiliation with Vanuatu…


Why do we carry products from Vanuatu? When Elaine and Chris Nuessler took a trip to Tanna, in the South Pacific Vanuatu archipelago, the last thing they expected was that they would later end up importing some of the island's specialty products for their Summerland store. In fact the store had not even been a seed of an idea in their imaginations at the time they made the trip! Now, a few years later, with a desire to help some of the delightful locals they had met on Tanna, they are bringing the potent and addicting Fair-Trade Vanuatu coffee and Volcanic Earth products to Summerland BC, through the connection of Ann and Frank - two friends who were from the tiny South Pacific Island.

Purple Hemp is also now bringing in the fabulous Gaston Chocolates. The story on this wonderful chocolatier is below.


The vanuatu volcano that is home to the superior Tanna Island Coffee

Tanna Island coffee is known and loved for its full body and deep dark aromatics - think smooth taste with zero bitterness and an aftertaste that reminds one of the best chocolate with nutty overtones. The potash in the soil surrounding the volcano which provides the slopes where this delectable coffee is grown, is responsible for the unusual taste as the soils drainage is superb and abundant tropical rains lend a purifying effect to the air in the valley.

The original coffee came from Tanzania and is the Dwarf Catimor tree which is a group of pure-line cultivars originating from crosses between two heritage plants. The coffee plant is known to be highly productive with a built in resistance to coffee leaf rust and to coffee berry disease (CBD).



locals connection

Amazingly the Tanna Island locals can navigate the scorching climates and terrain surrounding the powerful Vanuatu volcano which is home to the coffee they grow. As shepherds of their berries, they know the area surrounding the volcano well and also have become sensitive to the signs that tell them when the berries are ripe and ready to be processed.

The islands locals still live today in a way that has been untouched by western civilization - their traditions live on and are passed down from generation to generation which is rare in today's world.

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sustainable coffee production on the island of tanna

The Tanna island communities have been empowered to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through the “Fair Trade for a Fair Go” business practice, one which was put in place to help the locals bring to market, their own grown coffee. Their sustainable production has led to significant improvements in the lives of the smallholder growers. Member organizations such as Organic, the Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, UTZ, etc. are backing the principles behind the production derived from Tanna on Vanuatu and the worldwide ethical consumer market has allowed such practices to not only exist, but to also thrive within the current world market environments. Collective efforts are made on all levels to allow for tracking and tracing of the coffees origin and systems are put in place to give incentives to local growers as they reap their own profits.

Tanna Island Coffee is a joint venture between Tanna Coffee Plantations (TCP) and INIK Co-operative. INIK is the engine that drives the industry at a grass roots level. As a mark of the partnership’s success, in early 2012 INIK Co-op started a 5 day a week delivery service of coffee seedlings to all parts of Tanna Island to kickstart replanting programs and boost production. For more information on the growing of this sustainable crop visit the highly informative Cafe Culture website.



VOLCANIC Earth Skincare Line


Volcanic Earth Vanuatu has discovered the restorative Powers of Tamanu Oil and Virgin Coconut Oil and has packaged it into the perfect natural skin care product line. All of their products use these amazing oils. Try Volcanic Earth's skin care products to discover for yourself – the restorative powers of 100% natural 100% Vanuatu made and owned skincare. The island volcanic ash provides you with a wide range of beauty and health benefits due to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-yeast and general purification, cleansing and exfoliating qualities. Come see us at Purple Hemp Co and ask us about the Volcanic Earth line.

Tamanu Oil Benefits

Tamanu Oil is a natural acne treatment, psoriasis treatment, eczema treatment, the best anti aging product and a unique skin healing agent that stimulates the formation of brand new skin cells, Fantastic for the growth of healthy, soft, glowing skin. This magic oil is also effective for virtually any skin ailment, including stretch marks, age spots, as a natural dermatitis treatment, acne, acne scar removal and more! Add to this the virgin Coconut Oil skin care secrets of the ancient Melanesians for some of the most potent, natural skin care for great skin.



Gaston Chocolates

Award winning Chocolates from Vanuatu

Frank Halbauer, our partner from Vanuatu, brings the utterly scrumptious Gaston Chocolates to Purple Hemp in Summerland. Gaston Chocolates is a heralded chocolatier from the tiny South Pacific island of Vanuatu.

Gastons, which owns a physical store on the main street of Port Vila, offers a range of chocolates such as Coconut, Caramelized Nangae Nut and Rum Drummed Raisins. Bronze medals were won for both the Coconut and Nangae bars in the Academy of Chocolate International Awards 2019 in Britain.

Cocoa production had been decreasing in Vanuatu and Gaston is one of the companies that is in part responsible for a resurgence of interest in making cocoa a viable commodity. “Many locals are focused on copra production, but you can get 4 times the income from cocoa than you can from coconuts, with the same amount of labour” he says. “So we are aiming for production and quality to improve. Customers want to know that there is a story behind every block of chocolate and Vanuatu has a great story to tell”.

Some of the beans grown on Epi Island give beautiful nutty flavours. The company is coming up with a number of unique ideas to find ways to use more of the local fruits in their bars .

Stop by for a taste of Gaston chocolate – it is truly from another world.

Gasston Chocolates - Vanuatu
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