Oko Caribe, Dominican Republic

 

ÖKO Caribe was founded in 2006 by Gualberto Acebey Torrejon and Adriano De Jesus Rodriguez,who both have over 20 years of experience in cacao production, including working as technicos (trainers who teach farmers agricultural best practices) at Conocado, the largest cocoa producer group in the Dominican Republic, and biggest Fair Trade certified cocoa co-op in the world. They decided to set out on their own and started ÖKO Caribe, a mission-driven cacao sourcing company based just outside San Francisco de Macoris. They buy wet beans from local farms, then ferment and dry them to perfection.

The farms are located in several zones outside of San Francisco de Macoris: Ponton, Pimentel, San Felipe, Los Lanos de Castillo (the biggest cacao producing zone in the Dominican Republic), Ramonel, Coto, and Duarte. Adriano and Gualberto have developed strong, long-term relationships with these farms to help cultivate a better and more stable price for their cacao than they were able to achieve selling to other buyers.


Alto Beni Cacao, Bolivia

This cacao grows in the Alto Beni region of Bolivia and is collected, fermented and dried by the Alto Beni Cacao Company. All the beans come from small-scale farmers who are paid premium prices for their production and use cacao as a main source of income in the rural area. In previous years, the beans have varied in quality due to farm level fermentation and drying. This year, the founders launched a centralized fermentation and drying facility and with support from Uncommon Cacao, made critical adjustments to the collection, fermentation and drying process which we've found have introduced consistency and improved quality to the bean. Previous harvests have been certified organic but this year’s harvest is not certified (though organically cultivated).


Chimelb, Cacao Verapaz, Guatemala

Finca Chimelb is a truly magnificent, private farm located in Lanquin, Alta Verapaz. It's the largest cacao farm in Alta Verapaz and they cultivate coffee, rubber, eucalyptus, and pine, as well as cacao. They have roughly 70 hectares of cocoa (~170 acres), in different stages of production, and plan to reach 150 hectares of cacao in the next 2 years. They also have a clonal garden and are highly technical in how they plant. The wide varieties of genetics on the farm include the rare and mysterious Seleccion Guatemalteca (SGU) clones, local trees originally identified through a large national university selection project in the 1970s. In this stunning picture everything that you see is the Chimelb farm, including the centuries-old white church in the background which affords amazing views of the mountains above and cacao below!

We find the flavor to be similar to the Lachuá micro lot -- brown fruit, with some light red fruit notes and a nutty finish.


Lachuá, Guatemala

Farmers in this region live in the area around Laguna Lachuá, a pristine lake in the middle of a national park in the Alta Verapaz department. The Lachuá associations are part of a protection program for the national park reserve – the Laguna Lachuá Reserve. Farmers here are Q'eqchi Maya, who grow cardamom and corn, as well as cacao. Many farmers still live entirely off the grid, in areas without electricity or phone signal. Clonal varieties include a mix of trinitarios, upper Amazon forasteros, and amelonados, with some presence of Nacional.  With technical and market support from Cacao Verapaz, the cacao from this region has quickly become renowned in the craft chocolate market. In 2017 Cacao Verapaz is deepening the connection with the three Lachuá smallholder farmers associations by hiring full time staff to monitor and control the fermentation and drying process. This is part of a larger effort to maintain and continue to improve quality and consistency in these lots. We find the bean to have a bright fruit flavor with light acidity and a brown fruit finish.