This cacao is grown in the province of Esmeraldas, an area not typically known as a cacao producing region of Ecuador. Costa Esmeraldas is a family business, entirely owned and managed by the Salazar family. This single estate farm was established on reclaimed cattle pasture and is currently planted with approximately 100 hectares of 5-year old Nacional hybrid cacao (clones EET-95, EET-96, and EET-103). The farm is currently expanding, and will include 10 hectares of a traditional Esmeraldas cacao varietal that was cultivated in isolation for over 100 years from the typical Nacional cacao grown in the rest of the country. The original farms planted with this cacao are currently being cut down and replaced with oil palm and CCN-51. The farm is located less than 10 miles inland of the coastal town of Muisne. A brand new, high efficiency fermentation and drying facility was designed by Cacao Services and constructed in a dry microclimate about 15 miles from the farm near the town of Tonchigue. The facility design allows production of unusually consistent and clean cacao with an efficient movement of material that reduces worker injury and fatigue.
The color is strikingly dark for a 85% dark chocolate, but belies its mild flavor. Enjoy.