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.
Zorzal Estate beans are from cacao trees planted, grown, and harvested on the 1,030 acre Reserva Privada el Zorzal in the Northern mountain range. The Reserve includes a 130 acre organic cacao demonstration farm broken into 10 parcels (aka Parcelas). Each Parcela has its own planting design of specific clones. They currently harvest the majority of Zorzal Estate from Parcela 1, an existing 26 acre cacao grove where they are restoring by grafting onto the root stock. Based on the population structure of Parcela 1, the cacao is predominantly of the Amelonado ancestry, which tends to provide a deep chocolate base with fruity flavor.
Parcelas 2 – 9 are broken out into micro lots to provide chocolate makers with a specific clone or combination of clones fermented to tailored needs. The majority of Parcelas 2-9 were planted with grafted trees, including clones named after Mata Larga (local Cacao Experimental Station) and clones from Imperial College Selection (ICS) in Trinidad and United Fruit (UF) from Costa Rica.
In addition to producing their own cacao on Reserva Zorzal, they also buy cacao from 16 neighboring farms who share their vision for quality and conservation. The majority of farms are under our USDA organic certification umbrella program.