From the headwaters of the Amazon

The Ucayali river in Peru is one of the major headwaters of the Amazon.  Along its banks sit hundreds of small family farms which provide the flavorful beans for our Ucayali bar.

The Ucayali region is on Peru’s east coast and has long been known as a principal coca growing area.  While many farmers in the region once grew coca they have increasingly been turning to fine flavor cacao as an alternative.  Part of the reason for this change is the increased price that craft makers like us are paying for premium cacao, and another is an initiative being undertaken by the Peruvian government to eradicate coca crops and thereby reduce the endemic crime it brings.

We visited several farms in the region, including William Taleverno’s.  He and his family hosted us for lunch and a tour of their cacao trees, and showed us the many ways they’re working to improve the flavor and production of their cacao.  William was so inspired by the idea of fine flavor cacao that he’s been fermenting and drying his own beans at a nearby cooperative, and using those beans to make his own chocolate!  This is just one of the many ways fine flavor cacao has provided opportunities for farmers to add value at origin.

Expert fermentation and drying

William and the other farmers in the Ucayali river basin bring their wet cacao (often by boat!) to a new fermentation and drying facility built by Ucayali River Cacao, where they are paid a premium for their beans.  Although the facility is in the middle of the jungle it’s optimized to allow for precise control of the fermentation and drying processes which are so critical to flavor development.  The cacao is then carefully sorted in their custom built sorting machine, ensuring we receive high quality beans that are ready for roasting!


Flavor profile: An herbal and floral bar, this chocolate has notes of lemon verbena and fig.

Learn More About Our Other Chocolate

Boats are the main form of transportation for farmers who live along the river.
Heading upriver to the Talaverano family farm.
After a two hour boat ride upriver we arrived at the Talaverano's farm...
... and were treated to an incredibly tasty meal!
William Taleverano and his family. After lunch William showed us around the farm.
William explains how he carefully cultivates his cacao trees.
Opening a ripe cacao pod to taste!
Fresh, fruity and delicious!
Monica enjoys some fresh cacao.
William chooses trees with the most flavorful cacao and grows new trees from the beans.
A young cacao tree. The bean from which it sprouted is initially used as food by the tree.
Talking cacao.
We were incredibly impressed by William's farm and his dedication to fine flavor cacao!
Heading back downriver to visit Ucayali River Cacao's fermentation and drying facility.
Stopping to fuel up.
Not your typical gas station!
Checking out the bean drying racks.
Taking a break in the fermentation area.
Dried cacao beans bagged and ready for shipment!
tom and monica with a cacao tree in colombia