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Farms & Fermentaries

You know that bumper sticker “No Farms, No Food”? Well, the same goes for cacao. We simply wouldn’t have chocolate if it weren’t for farmers, so we can’t talk about chocolate without shining a light on a few of the equatorial operations behind your favorite bars.



Akesson’s farmers raking beans

Location: Sambirano Valley, Madagascar

Farmer: Bertil Åkesson

Used by: Dandelion, Dick Taylor, Fruition, Guittard, Omnom, Patric, Pump Street, Raaka, Ritual, Woodblock

In addition to cacao, Akesson’s farms banana trees, coffee, ylang-ylang, peppercorns, vanilla, and vetiver. They’ve been working their 2,300-hectare estate since 1920.


Location: Zamora, Ecuador

Farmer: Monica Guaman

Used by: Askinosie, The Other Bar

It takes a plane, car, and boat to get to Zamora, where indigenous farmers grow cacao, coffee, and plantains deep in the Amazon rainforest. One 70-year-old farmer named Lenore farms the rare criollo varietal that’s been in the region for centuries.


Location: Tamil Nadu, India

Farmer: Harish Manoj, Karthi Palaniswamy

Used by: Areté, Dandelion, Five Mile Chocolate, Solstice, Tiny House

This cacao, coconut, and nutmeg estate is run by two brothers-in-law, who also sell their own bars locally. They use drip irrigation to conserve water, and keep a small herd of cows for weeding and manure compost.



Fermentation boxes at Kokoa Kamili Fermentary

Location: Mbingu, Tanzania

Used by: 9th & Larkin, Areté, Askinosie, Dandelion, LetterPress, Nuance, Omnom, Raaka

Kokoa Kamili oversees fermentation and drying for farmers, helping them improve quality to get higher prices, and delivers seedlings back to the farms to increase future harvests.


Sorting beans at Maya Mountain Fermentary

Location: Toledo, Belize

Used by: Dandelion, Dick Taylor, Ethereal, Raaka, Ritual, Taza

Maya Mountain ferments and dries beans from the certified organic farms of Mopan Maya and Q’eqchi’ farmers and provides them with equipment and training loans.


Cacao pod at Camino Verde Fermentary

Location: Duran, Ecuador

Used by: Dandelion, Dick Taylor, Ethereal, Ritual, Solstice, Videri

Formerly a cacao farmer, owner Vicente Norero now processes beans and consults farmers. He has a reputation for precision, working like a winemaker to control ferment and isolate regional flavors.

Linni Kral

Linni Kral is a writer, editor, activist, and friend living in Brooklyn, with past lives in Boston, L.A., and Chicago. Her writing has been featured in the Atlantic & Atlas Obscura, among others. She’s happiest in the company of cows, books, and groceries.

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