Criollo and Trinatario cacao prefer to be grown near the Equator, which makes Peru an ideal growing region. The trees take root in lush soils, reach up to 40 ft. in height and around three years of age start producing their distinct floral smelling pods. The pods are harvested when mature and range in color from light to medium shades of purple. Each pod is split open to reveal dozens of little beans, coated in thick white, sweet pulp. To avoid germination, the beans are placed in special boxes, where microorganisms react with the sweet pulp, initiating the fermentation and heating up the beans. Over the next five days, a series of reactions occur, causing the pulp to break down, heat up and ultimately cure the bean. This process breaks down the bean’s cell wall and results in chemical changes that are responsible for the development of exceptional flavor, color and nutrient availability.
After the fermentation process, the beans are rinsed off, laid flat, and rotated frequently to promote even drying. Once cured and dried, we remove the shell and gently crush the bean into nibs. The nibs are melted into a thick paste and pressed to separate the solids (cacao powder) from the liquids (cacao butter) resulting in a pure, simple yet exceptionally flavorful powder.
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Peru borders Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, the Pacific Ocean and covers almost half a million square miles of western South America. The climate can range from arid on the coastal regions to tropical in the Amazon and is home to over 21,00 species of plants and animals, making Peru extremely biodiverse.