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We at Mindo Chocolate Makers take â€œbean-to-barâ€ to the extreme - we start our process as soon as our cocoa beans are harvested from trees in Ecuador. We work directly with a cooperative of organic farmers in Ecuador about 30 miles outside of our operation in Mindo. We purchase only the Nacional variety of cocoa beans--what is considered to be a fine-flavor, heirloom bean--and absolutely won't accept hybrid or diseased beans.
The majority of cacao trees in the world are hybrids designed to grow smaller and yield more fruit. Unfortunately, flavor wasn't one of the primary goals when hybrids were created. On the other hand, the Nacional variety that we use may not yield as much, but the beans have an incredibly complex flavor profile. What we like about the Nacional variety (in addition to its excellent flavor) is that it grows intermixed with other plants and trees that promote habitats for midge pollinators, birds, and other animals.
Not only that, many of these magnificent trees are ancient -- they're trees that our farmers' parents or grandparents planted or harvested from. So the farmers have a special connection to this variety and appreciate that we pay a premium for them. By paying two to three times the fair trade price for cocoa beans, we've ensured that we receive only the best Nacional beans and encouraged the farmers to resist the hybrid and deforestation trend.
- but locally produced
- it is not locally raised