Cacao Trees Loaded with FruitFarmers interplant cacao trees with many other crops. Cacao is shade-tolerant and thrives in the semi-shade of the taller avocado, mango, and maguay trees.
Cacao PodThe cacao pod ranges in size from as small as a tennis ball to as large as an NFL football.
Roasting the Cacao BeansThe cacao beans "pop" or "crack" during roasting. Timing is critical as a few seconds on either side could produce an overly roasted and burnt bean or an under-roasted bean.
Washing the Stone GrinderEvery farm has at least one "batan", used primarily to grind spices, make sauces, and crush herbs for medicinal use.
Traditional Peruvian Stone GrinderClean stone grinder. Farmers often search for years to find the perfect combination of a hard flat stone for the base and a heavy but manageable curved stone to grind.
Starting to Grind the CacaoStarting the arduous process of grinding the roasted cacao nibs into chocolate "liquor".
Heating the Stone GrinderSometimes farmers place the grinder in direct sunlight to heat the stone naturally.
Pasta Pura de CacaoThe cacao mass, or "pasta pura de cacao" has formed...just a bit more to liquify the paste!
Liquid Cacao PasteThe cacao has now been ground up sufficiently. Some chocolatiers will continue to grind their cacao for one or more days using machinery to fully grind the cacao into a liquid and further decrease the particle size.
Chocolate TrufflesFresh handmade truffles made from pure cacao paste and honey on display in a hotel in Lamay, Peru.
Working on Farms Throughout the "Eyebrow of the Jungle"
On the "food forest" farms of Peruvian Amazon and Andes, we harvest and process coffee, cacao, turmeric and ginger.