We work with farmers who cultivate the Peruvian "Chuncho" heriloom cacao variety, characterized by its high cocoa butter content and subtle aromas of Andean fruits and nuts. Some farmers also interplant a blend of Forastero and Trinitario cacao trees amongst other crops to strengthen the ecological sustainability of their farms which provide yearlong harvests and increased production. All the farmers we work with harvest only ripe cacao pods and ferment their beans from 3-7 days depending on varietal and weather conditions. They then dry the beans in the sun or in partial shade on raised beds in greenhouses. This slow fermentation enhances the rich chocolate flavors while reducing the overpowering bitterness associated with pure chocolate.
Peruvian Cacao: What Makes it Special?
Remote, virtually inaccessible valleys hidden behind the Andean Mountains, offering untapped potential.
Altitudes ranging from 200 meters (650 ft) all the way up to 1500 meters (5000 ft).
Excellent rich, loamy soil yields mineral-rich and flavorful beans.
Heirloom "Chuncho" cacao varieties make up the bulk of the cacao tree stock. This traditional variety produces premium cacao beans with high fat content, excellent aromas and balanced flavors. Most trees are full sized, non-dwarf trees, which increases the difficulty of harvest but produces higher quality beans.
Abundance of partial shade-grown cacao trees cultivated in diverse forest ecosystems. Diverse ecosystems provide ideal environments for "midges" (small flies which pollinate cacao trees).
Traditional farming practices, unspoiled by pesticides and herbicides, far from man-made contamination.
Small-scale farms (average size of about 2.5 hectares, or 6 acres) enable growers to harvest only ripe cacao pods and start fermentation the day of harvest.
Farms fed by rainfall and crystalline Andean springs and streams.
Dry season corresponds with harvest to ease in drying, ensure uniformity, and preserve distinctive aromas and flavors.
Scientists believe cacao originally developed in the understory of the Amazon jungle in the Orinoco and Amazon rivers.