A family farm on Ecuador’s coast

Just south of Same, Ecuador is a state-of-the-art cacao fermentation and drying facility.  Built by the Salazar family and designed by cacao whisperer Dan O’Doherty of Cacao Services, it allows for very precise control of the fermentation and drying processes and minimizes strain on the workers by being ergonomically efficient.

This incredible facility is where the Salazars ferment and dry the exceptional, fine flavor Nacional hybrid cacao from their nearby farm.  With over one hundred acres of carefully cultivated trees, the Salazars are in the rare and enviable position of growing enough cacao to ferment and dry it themselves.  This allows for a tremendous amount of control of the fermentation and drying process, resulting in cacao beans of very high quality and exceptional flavor.

Cultivated for flavor.

When we visited the Salazars we were impressed with their commitment to fine flavor.  Working with Dan, they identified several flavorful Nacional clones  (EET-95, EET-96 and EET-103) and have been grafting those clonal varieties to increase their production.  They also  planted several acres of a traditional local fine flavor Acriollado varietal that was in danger of disappearing.

Flavor profile: Berry jam, with extremely low acidity, and mellow astringency.  A long, satisfying finish.

Walking the farm with Dan and Freddy
Dan shows Monica a clipping from one of the trees.
Freddy on the farm. These trees are about five years old.
Monica with a ripe Nacional cacao pod.
At the fermentation facility. The boxes are stepped so the cacao can be easily moved to the lower box.
Freddy with the drying racks, which can be easily rolled into or out of the sun.
The beans need to be carefully tended to ensure even drying.
Freddy an Monica under the fermentation boxes. The cacao is easily dropped from above onto the drying racks.
Esmeraldas cacao bagged and ready for shipment!
At the beach - just a few minutes from the farm!