A New Venture in San Pablo de Borbur

We’re thrilled to add Colombia as our newest origin.  Colombia is one of the birthplaces of cacao and we’ve wanted to make a bar for years but hadn’t found beans we liked… until now!

We’re proud to be the very first chocolate maker to receive beans from Impulsa Bacao in the Boyaca region of Colombia.  This recently launched project is a joint venture with FUNRED Agro, a local association of cacao farmers, and was established to help bring cacao producing families out of poverty and generate a positive social and environmental impact in the region.    To help farmers in the region generate profits from cacao they built a new fermentation and drying facility in the town of San Pablo de Borbur.  They also provided technical assistance to help farmers identify genetic cacao varieties known for fine flavor beans, and taught them best practices for propagation, pruning and harvesting.  During harvest season they send a truck to each farm every day to pick up the freshly harvested wet cacao beans and bring them to the fermentation facility.

Once at the facility the beans are fermented using a specifically designed protocols, and the fermentation process is carefully monitored using data loggers.  The beans are then dried in their covered drying area.  The entire process is overseen by Alejandro Vargas and William Bonilla with the supervision of General Manager Anyi Gonzalez Torres, all of whom are from San Pablo de Borbur.

From Coca to Cacao

Farmers in the region used to rely on income from growing coca, but the premium price Impulsa Bacao is offering for fine flavor cacao has made cacao a newly important cash crop.  Although Impulsa is only a year old dozens of local farmers have decided to work with them and sell them their cacao.

On our trip to San Pablo de Borbur in February we met with the staff of Impulsa Bacao, who were kind enough to spend several days showing us their new facility and post harvest practices, and also took us to visit many of the farmers of FUNRED Agro who are now providing cacao to them.  Every family we met with was enthusiastic about the potential of fine flavor cacao to become a significant cash crop, and are dedicating a significant amount of time to improving their cacao varieties and yields.  Many are planting new trees and are even using grafting techniques learned from Impulsa to more quickly increase the amount of fine flavor cacao they produce each season.


Learn More About Our Other Chocolate

The new fermentation and drying facility.
Martino Bonato, William Bonilla, Anyi Torres and Monica in the fermentation area.
Fermenting beans. The beans are covered in banana leaves to retain heat.
William shows Tom tracking data from the fermentation data loggers.
All of the logging info is carefully tracked.
Monica in the drying area.
Checking the flavor of the beans as they dry.
A drying bean with the husk removed. Even at this stage they're delicious!
Reviewing the books.
Dry cacao beans in sacks for shipment.
Each lot is marked and can be tracked back to specific farms and harvest dates.
Driving to one of the farms. The roads are often more like paths.
Heading to the check out the cacao trees.
A ripe cacao pod. This is one of several cacao varieties in the region.
Opening the pods is typically done with a machete.
The best part - tasting!
In fresh pods the beans are surrounded by pulp, which fuels the fermentation process.
Monica with beans ready to eat!
The best way to increase production of fine flavor cacao is by grafting.
A small branch from a "super producer" tree is grafted onto the trunk of mature tree (patron).
Wet cacao beans are brought up the mountain by mule!
With Luis Angel, Jose Murcia and Edilberto Roncancio on their farm.
The view from our $8/night hotel in San Pablo de Borbur.