We’re passionate about cacao and the people who grow it - and bet you are, too. We work hard to ensure our ethical sourcing practices address issues like gender equality, child labor, sustainable farming methods, higher profits, and more; sourcing our cacao beans from two cacao regions of the world, Peru and West Africa. As with all cacao, our beans are grown within 20° north and south of the equator. Let’s take a look…
Where does our chocolate come from?
Peru: where 2.5% of the world's cacao is grown
Experts believe cacao originated in what is now Peru. Because of its early roots there, you can find many fine-flavor, unique cacao varietals naturally growing on small Peruvian farms.
Scientists around the world recently identified 10 unique genetic clusters (or varietals) of cacao, and six of them are found in Peru.
RIPE CACAO PODS IN PERU
One of those 10 cacao varietals is called Contamana, which can be found in the Cusco Valley of Quillabamba, Peru. We use this varietal for our jcoco 85% dark bar – our darkest bar yet.
The rest of our jcoco dark and milk chocolate bars also use Peruvian cacao. For these bars, we use a blend of cacao varietals from a region called Rupa-Rupa in the upper Amazon. The soil found in this region is full of nutrients that trickle down from the Andes mountains, creating an interesting and unique terroir.
Most cacao farms are located in very remote regions, far from major cities. Dirt roads connect the farms and villages, and, during the rainy season, they can get quite muddy. Check out what these beans go through to get to us!
ABOVE Some cacao farms must be accessed by river, like this one we visited in Peru. RIGHT Owner & CEO Jean Thompson tries the fresh pulp of a just-cut cacao pod, which has a tart, fruity flavor and is quite nutritious.
BELOW Jean with chocolate maker Samir Giha and Cesar Mendoza, a Peruvian cacao farmer.
ABOVE Some cacao farms must be accessed by river, like this one we visited in Peru. BELOW Owner & CEO Jean Thompson tries the fresh pulp of a just-cut cacao pod, which has a tart, fruity flavor and is quite nutritious. BELOW Jean with chocolate maker Samir Giha and Cesar Mendoza, a Peruvian cacao farmer.
There are hundreds of thousands of small farms along the Equator who grow all the world’s chocolate. These farms are family-owned and -operated and the farmers or cooperative groups are responsible for tree care, harvesting of the pods, and post-harvest processing (fermentation and drying) of the beans.
Our Peruvian chocolate is made by Samir Giha, a Lima-based chocolate maker. He works with the farmers to improve their agricultural techniques and yield and perfect their post-harvest techniques. Samir pays the farmers well above the commodity price to enable them to live quality lives and improve their farms.
West Africa: Ivory Coast and Ghana, where 70% of the world’s cacao is grown
All of our cacao from West Africa is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Rainforest Alliance certification aims to create a better future for people and nature. By bringing diverse allies together, the Rainforest Alliance protects forests, improves the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promotes their human rights, and helps them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis in bold and effective ways. Learn more about what it means to be Rainforest Alliance Certified here.