BRIGHT • BERRIES CHERRIES • CHOCOLATE
SOURCED WITH OUR PARTNER
"CONSERVATION CACAO AND AMAZON SPECIALTIES"
We love making chocolate out of the bright, fruity beans from CAC Pangoa, a cacao co-op in the Junín region of Peru with more than 700 members. Pangoa originally focused on coffee beans but is now full steam ahead growing cacao.
We originally worked with our friend Steve Bergin at Conservation Cacao to source organic cacao from roughly 60 farmers who each own small plots of land. They bring wet beans to the coop, which then ferments and dries them in one central location. We now work with two Peruvians, Marco Fernandez-Concha and Aurelio Loret de Mola, whom we had the pleasure to meet at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, at Cacao Life Amazon Specialties.
The resulting high-quality beans represent a huge achievement for this area of Peru. In the 1980s terrorist groups targeted the Junín region, and in the 1990s the land was covered with coca farms. Now, among the daily rigor of growing cacao, farmers are fighting a plant disease brought on by global warming.
The farmers founded Pangoa in 1977 themselves, so it makes sense that they are so highly focused on bringing success to their community. Think democratic elections, a reforestation program, a housing initiative, and more. We’re particularly awed by Director Esperanza Dionisio’s leadership, the first female manager of the cooperative, and are excited to showcase her hard work.
Most cacao farms cultivate trees in rows, but in Bolivia, cacao grows wild along the Alto Beni River in its natural habitat. People travel along the river in boats, stopping every once in a while to collect fresh pods from the trees! That’s why you’ll often see Bolivian beans referred to as wild cacao.
After the farmers harvest pods, they sell the wet beans to the brothers for premium farmgate prices; then Nelson and Jorge ferment and dry the beans at a central fermentary. Uncommon then finds a home for these beans with chocolate makers looking to pay higher prices for higher-quality beans.