You may also want to consider our Heirloom variety (smaller size, 20% more cacao butter content, stronger aroma and flavor)
This our 2018 crop. These certified-organic cacao beans were grown and processed in our centralized fermentation plant in the community of Buena Vista, near Sapecho, Palos Blancos, Alto Beni , Bolivia. They are certified organic by Ceres GmbH in Germany and Baystte Organic Certifiers in the US and Canada. We currently only have samples and small quantities, as they were brought via air freight by Nelson after his July visit to our centralized fermentation plant. They will become available in quantity by Fall 2018.
2014 was our first full year of operations at the Alto Beni Cacao Co., our project aiming to revolutionize the Bolivian cacao industry by building the first-in-country centralized cacao fermentation plant, and nursery program for high-quality Bolivian cacao seedlings. Invalsa's cacao business started in 2009, when Alex Whitmore, founder and CEO of Taza Chocolate in Somerville, MA, contacted us to help his company source organic Bolivian cacao. At that point, we knew a lot about Bolivia and Bolivan coffee, but nothing about cacao. Alex has been an excellent teacher and in 2010, we sourced Taza Chocolate's first shipment of direct-trade, organic cacao from the Palos Blancos, Alto Beni region of Bolivia. Taza Chocolate uses it to make their very popular, highest dark-chocolate (87%) bar. 2018 is our fifth year of cacao improvement and processing in our centralized plant in the Buena Vista community.
Alto Beni Cacao works, and pays for the organic certification of about 125 cacao-producing families in the Alto Beni region (Tucupi, Alto Remolino, Popoy, etc.). We also have a 10 Ha. parcel in Buena Vista (On the paved road from Sapecho to Yucumo) where our modern, centralized fermentation plant is located with 4 Ha. of cacao planted. This year will be our first year of production of our own cacao trees.
Our current production capacity is 60 MT annually, which can be easily doubled with the receipt of cacao-purchasing contracts.
These cacao beans are a hybrid variety (largest genetic pool, Amelonado). We are continually making improvements in the quality control system at our plant; these beans are of a much more consistent quality than previously available sources of Bolivian cacao (from us or anyone else). We call these beans "Walikeewa", the local Aymara language for "improved". They are much larger than our Heirloom cacao beans, easier for larger winnowing machines.
These improved cacao beans are purchased unprocessed (in baba) by the ABC team near our plant in the Alto Beni region. Once dried, screened and homogenized, these cacao beans are packed in GrainPro® bags at 6.5% humidity, and kept cool and dry in our Obrajes warehouse (over 10,000 fett above sea level) in the city of La Paz, "reposando" (resting) to improve flavor and awaiting export. We are proud to say we are the main supplier of cacao beans to Chocolates Para Ti, the widely acknowledged largest and best chocolate maker in Bolivia based in the beautiful, colonial city of Sucre.
Our Walikeewa cacao beans are the same as the #1 HCP Heirloom Cacao 1 Alto Beni (Heirloom Cacao Project), which have the 58.4% Amelonado, 18.2% Criollo, 16.3%, Upper Amazon Forastero, and 7.1% Nacional Genetic Profile. They were registered at the HCP by our good friend and cacao-export customer Volker Lehmann. Below is the Genetic profile published in the www.hcpcacao.org website:
HCP Tasting Panelists commented on this bean’s fresh fruit and floral notes, complimented by its tamed, but prolonged cacao flavor.
USDA Genetic Profile
How do I roast cacao beans?
To roast cacao beans, you need to expose them to a high temperature, close to 325 degrees, and then gradually lower that temperature for the next 15 to 30 minutes. You lower temperature to prevent burning of the outside of the beans while the inside gets appropriately hot, and kills all the bacteria and mold that may be left over from fermenting the fresh cacao beans. When the beans start to pop (from water evaporation), making a sound known as the "crack" in coffee roasting parlance, they are very close to being finished. You want to stop just after most are finished cracking, but not so long after that they start to smell burnt. It is a trial-and-error method and you will get better as you roast more cacao beans. Many coffee aficionados roast their own coffee at home to ensure the highest degree of flavor and quality, and save lots of money in the process. If you are one of them, you can do exactly the same thing for cacao beans. Even if you dont roast coffee at home, but just love the flavor of high-quality cocoa or chocolate, you can follow these quick, easy steps to roast your own cacao beans in your own kitchen.
The processes of roasting coffee and cacao beans are nearly the same, except because cacao beans are more fragile than coffee beans, they have to be roasted at a much lower temperature. Coffee beans are generally roasted at around 450-480 degrees Fahrenheit, while cacao beans should never get hotter than 325 degrees. Your nose will tell you. If it stars smelling burnt, it is too hot! Other than the lower temperature, the process is the same. We recommend using the Behmor 1600 coffee roaster for cacao roasting. The Behmor 1600 is designed as a coffee roaster, but works well with cacao. Use the one-pound setting with the P2 profile, but fill the grid drum with 2.5 to 3 lbs of raw cacao beans. We are an authorized distributor of the Behmor 1600, and you can find it on this site in the "Roasters & Grinders" collection.