These beans come to us from the Camino Verde Estate owned by Vicente Norero near Balao, Ecuador. Vicente’s deep understanding of fermentation methods allows him to produce a variety of flavor profiles through a combination of cacao genetics, which trees are used for a specific fermentation, and using yeasts to push specific flavor precursors forward in the beans.
The beans we’ve chosen for our 75% bar are from the “B” fermentation which brings out more of the fruit flavor notes compared to some of the other fermentations they use. Because these beans are naturally very low in cocoa butter, in part because they grow very close to the equator, we add 4.5% cocoa butter to our recipe. We hand press our own cocoa butter from these same beans to keep the bar a true single origin chocolate.
Equador: Puerto Quito
Believe it or not, the story behind these beans starts with an auto repair shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a return visit to Ecuador after a 41 year absence. This visit then resulted in the purchase of a plot of land in Mindo, continues on with an internet café set up in the middle of the mountain cloud forest (in order to defray some of the high cost of internet service in such a place – in order to keep in touch with the auto shop in Michigan - involves some world class chocolate brownies sold at the internet café, and a lack of good local (to Ecuador) chocolate to make them – and ends with a cacao and chocolate business that makes these exceptional beans available to all of us!
See www.mindochocolate.com for the full story of Mindo Chocolate who imports, makes chocolate from, and sells these fine beans.
Brazil: Fazenda Camboa
Fazenda Camboa in Bahia Brazil, is a farm that has been in operation and in the family since 1942.
We count ourselves as very fortunate to still be able to work with and enjoy these wonderful beans today as the farm was nearly wiped out in the 1990s by Witches’ Broom disease (which destroyed much of Brazil’s cacao industry). Annual production at Fazenda Camboa dropped by over 96% as a result of this devastating disease, but they did not give up and worked with a skilled agronomist who developed a method to save many of the trees that were affected by the disease.
A key part of Fazenda Camboa’s journey of recovery was their adoption of organic farming methods. Their single-estate beans are both USDA and Brazil IBD-certified organic.
We’re thrilled to be among the first makers in the US to be able to work with these exceptional beans and offer them to you in our 70% and 75% bars.
Bolivia: Wild Harvest
During just a bit over two months every year – from late December through February – inhabitants of the Amazon Basin in the Beni Department in the north east corner of Bolivia head deep into the Amazon jungle in search of a singularly rare treasure – wild cacao.
It wasn’t always this way, though.Just a few short decades ago this cacao was rarely harvested since the only buyers were looking for commodity cacao and the inhabitants weren't aware of how rare and special their wild beans were.
The harvest occurs during the rainy season, so even getting to it (let alone getting it back out) means a long, muddy, and difficult trek into the jungle - either on motorbikes or on foot - under constant assault by the swarms of mosquitoes who also call the jungle home. In short, it was simply too much work for too little compensation. Happily, for all of us, times have changed. The communities that call this place home now understand how special their wild cacao is. They know how to harvest it, to care for it in a sustainable way, to protect it from the devastating effects of the Witches Broom fungus that cacao is so susceptible to, and most of all to be compensated fairly for the true value of these incredibly special beans.
We gladly pay a premium price for the privilege of working with these amazing little beans - they really are tiny compared to their hybridized and mass-cultivated cousins - and we hope you enjoy the chocolate that we make from them as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.