Olmedo Castro Jama is the president of the association at Province-level, and locally he is the representative of another smaller association called APROCAN. Omero is a cocoa grower, owner of the 2 hectare farm Ponderosa. Omero combines in its farm edible and forest trees species.
Cocoa farms are complex agroforestry systems, that is, they combine cocoa crops with other plant species including trees and plants of different types. Being a system with many vegetal species, it is very rich in biodiversity, it harbors a great amount and variety of insects and birds. This system nourishes itself since the debris of the plants fall to the ground generating a lot of leaf debris which decomposes and nourishes the soil.
Francisco Peñarrieta is the commercial responsible of the UOPROCAE Association that reunites 400 cocoa-grower families in the area. Most of the associated farms are small: two or three hectares.
This association works with 7 grassroots organizations. Francisco is in charge of managing the association and looking for new markets.
Our cocoa purchases are handled on the basis of their physical and organoleptic quality at prices much higher than those established in the market and at even better prices than those offered by some Fair-Trade organizations.
Something we have learned about the market since working for more than ten years ago with the cocoa’s brother, coffee, is that a moral and material recognition of quality yields fruits that multiply the virtue of a producer -industrializer relationship. We handle the price information and origin of the cocoa in a transparent way so that anyone who needs this information can obtain it. For us it is very important that the consumer is aware of all the work behind it, and also, of the positive impact generated by their buying decision.
The Cocoa producers that we work with want to produce the best possible cocoa. A fair price allows them to know that what they do is sustainable, which guarantees a decent life in a sustainable way: with access to education, medicine, home, food, and recreation.
Our duty as processors is to optimize this cocoa in the best possible way in order to take advantage of all its capacity to develop complex and pleasant aromas. We achieve this with a deep knowledge of cocoa and the adequate process to emphasize its virtues.
The philosophy behind this business model is based on the belief that the real business is not the exchange of goods for money alone, but the relationship between human beings.
The harvesting of the cocoa pods is the collection of the cocoa fruit. Then the seeds, which are covered with a sweet and aromatic pulp, must be extracted.
The cocoa beans are fermented along with their pulp, to form the aromatic precursors: chemical compounds that turn into the characteristic chocolate aromas. A good fermentation is key to the quality of the future chocolate.
The fermented beans are left to dry in the sun, and then transported to the processing plant.
Once cleaned, the beans are roasted to develop aromas and flavors.
The cocoa beans are cracked to extract the nibs on one side, and discard the shell on the other side.
The nibs are placed in a chocolate milling machine. The milling and refining is the process of making cocoa solid particles smaller and smaller and covering them evenly with shortening (cocoa butter). In this process sugar, cocoa butter and lecithin are added, when the formula contains such ingredients. The milling also helps evaporate chemicals that damage the taste of chocolate. A good refining allows us to feel a creamy and silky chocolate, the small particles are imperceptible to the touch of the tongue.
Tempering consists of ordering the molecules of cocoa butter evenly for the formation of crystals. This crystalline organization gives the chocolate a luster, and makes it more solid, and stable at a moderate temperature. A good tempering renders a chocolate that makes a good snap sound when it breaks.
Molding allows making chocolate bars or bonbons.
Our factory is a semi-artisanal chocolate factory, equipped with Selmi machinery. It’s located in Ecuador, at the center of the earth, exactly on the equinoctial line. Our future project is the creation of a recreational space where visitors can learn about chocolate, coffee and other gastronomic products of the area.
Our factory is dedicated to the elaboration of bars with aggregates, chocolate glazes and bonbons filled with fruit and natural elements.