Balao  /  Ecuador

Batch 1, 2014 Harvest.

Featuring 73% cacao cultivated at the Camino Verde orchard in Balao, Ecuador. A fine cacao with flavor nuances of honeysuckle, walnut and guava.

A cacao orchard in the old forests of Balao Ecuador, Camino Verde grows unique Nacional cacao. After harvest, the fruit is fermented with select bacteria to amplify floral and nutty flavors. The result is sun-dried to expand the flavor precursors and lower acids. In our workshop, we bring flavor to bloom by roasting the cacao beans, refining them with organic cane sugar and conching for 3 days to tame acidity and soften texture. We temper the molten result into the structured and glossy bar you now hold. We hope this chocolate reflects the essence of all that brought it to being —the feats of nature, the wisdom of Camino Verde caretakers and the devotion of our chocolate makers.

Content: Cacao and sugar.

Weight: 1 oz. (28gr.)

Price: $7

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Vicente Norero, Camino Verde founder. Vicente Norero, Camino Verde founder, cracking open a fresh cacao pod.

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An encounter with a snake considered a guardian in the orchard. It preys on animals that devour the cacao pods.A close encounter with a big snake. This particular snake is considered a guardian in the orchard since it preys on aggressive vipers and rodents who break into the cacao pods to feed from their sweet pulp.

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Care takers on pruning duty. Their tools called podaderas are long wooden poles with a sharp blade at the tip for cutting the little stem attaching the cacao pod to the trunk. The cut has to be precise so it does not slip and injure the main trunk. This day they are picking out only diseased pods attacked with an infection called monilla. Lime is sprinkled over the diseased cacao pods (shown in black) to prevent monilla from spreading into healthy pods. Care takers pruning cacao pods to prevent the spread of a cacao attacking disease known as monilla.

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Cacao beans at the post-harvest station almost dry enough to be bagged and shipped.

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Vicente in 2012 showing a cacao pod which he proudly insisted was the future of fine Ecuadorian cacao.In 2012 while walking through Camino Verde, Vicente spotted this pod and alerted with pride that this was the future. We interpreted this as a concrete image of his vision and as an elegant message of nature that could only be translated by the wisdom he had gained through years of caring for this ecosystem.

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