Traveling is a big part of bean to bar chocolate making and we all love to travel at indi chocolate. Exploring new places, trying new food, meeting new people and finding the best tasting cacao in the world is all part of the adventure.
Ecuador is a one of our favorite origins for sourcing cacao, the people, food and country itself is full of life and beautiful biodiversity. Getting the chance to take The Chocolate Refiner was a great excuse to visit farming families that I hadn’t seen in a couple years.
One community that we visited was in Apai, an island in the Napo region of the Amazon, only accessible by boat. These Kichwa farmers practice traditional ways of farming on a chakra, a small bio diverse plot of land.
Alongside cacao they grow medicinal plants, coffee (in the picture below), hardwoods and food for their homes or to sell at the market. The Kallari cooperative that these farmers are a part of has given farmers a lot of education surrounding the harvesting of cacao, pruning trees and planting good cacao.
The goal bringing The Chocolate Refiner to Kichwa farmers is to enable farmers to make chocolate on their small chakras. So farmers can be making test batches, monitoring quality and also be able to enjoy chocolate they make themselves ;)
Don Ceasar and his family showed us around his chakra with pride, invited us into his home to try all sorts of fruit and foods that you would never get the chance to try in the United States.
One of my favorite fruits we tried was the cacao bicolor, called patas, it is a type of cacao that is not used for making chocolate, but has a wonderful cantaloupe taste.
After eating snacks we sat down with The Chocolate Refiner to show how to use the machine, making chocolate at home is an exciting prospect for anyone, especially compared to the traditional hand grinder they use for grinding cacao or making corn flour.
Don Ceasar’s wife and children showed us the application for the fruit achote (pictured below) a fruit that is a natural red dye and paint and introduced us to their pet, a tamed Cachuco (pictured below).
The exchange of knowledge is very powerful and these farmers know so much about the environment they live in, how to care for all of their plants and how each plant can be used, I can't wait to visit them again to try not only the cacao fruit (which is delicious), but also try chocolate made on site!