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.

The Farms

 

Cacao

Cacao Trees Loaded with Fruit
Cacao Trees Loaded with Fruit

Farmers 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.

Harvested Cacao Pods
Harvested Cacao Pods

Freshly harvested cacao pods ready to be split open for processing.

Breaking Open Cacao Pods
Breaking Open Cacao Pods

Using a small machete to open the freshly harvested cacao pods.

Cacao Pod
Cacao Pod

The cacao pod ranges in size from as small as a tennis ball to as large as an NFL football.

Cacao Pod Split Open
Cacao Pod Split Open

Opened cacao pod showing the sweet juicy white pulp that surrounds the beans.

Drying Cacao Beans
Drying Cacao Beans

Cacao Beans drying under the sun after 3-4 days of fermentation.

Dry Cacao Beans
Dry Cacao Beans

Fully dried cacao beans on a colorful blanket (a "manta").

Roasting the Cacao Beans
Roasting the Cacao Beans

The 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.

Pealed and Roasted Cacao
Pealed and Roasted Cacao

Hand-peeled cacao beans (cacao nibs) after traditional roasting.

Roasted and Pealed Cacao
Roasted and Pealed Cacao

Roasted and pealed cacao beans in front of the traditional clay/mud oven.

Washing the Stone Grinder
Washing the Stone Grinder

Every farm has at least one "batan", used primarily to grind spices, make sauces, and crush herbs for medicinal use.

Traditional Peruvian Stone Grinder
Traditional Peruvian Stone Grinder

Clean 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 Cacao
Starting to Grind the Cacao

Starting the arduous process of grinding the roasted cacao nibs into chocolate "liquor".

"La Batan"
"La Batan"

Hand grinding the cacao with stone tools, the most traditional processing technique.

Heating the Stone Grinder
Heating the Stone Grinder

Sometimes farmers place the grinder in direct sunlight to heat the stone naturally.

Cacao Paste
Cacao Paste

Grinding for 30-45 minutes reduces the particle size, creating a cacao paste.

Pasta Pura de Cacao
Pasta Pura de Cacao

The cacao mass, or "pasta pura de cacao" has formed...just a bit more to liquify the paste!

Liquid Cacao Paste
Liquid Cacao Paste

The 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 Truffles
Chocolate Truffles

Fresh handmade truffles made from pure cacao paste and honey on display in a hotel in Lamay, Peru.

Handmade Chocolates
Handmade Chocolates

Chocolate creations made with our hand ground cacao paste!