Costa Rica – Maleku
At Origin Chocolate, this is exactly the type of cacao we love to offer. Not only is it a fantastic example of Central American chocolate, it is produced by a company that cares deeply about both the farmers and the land. This is the way forward for chocolate - sustainable, responsible, and fair.
Nahua Cacao named this cacao in honor of the Maleku population native to the northern plains of Costa Rica. That region’s history is so intertwined with cacao that there is even a local legend among the Maleku tribe of small, elf-like people called Carrache that live along the river and eat cacao from the trees!
Nahua Cacao itself was founded in 2011 in San Jose. From the beginning their chief purpose has been promoting and sourcing premium, quality cacao from indigenous communities in northern Costa Rica. Currently, all of Nahua's cacao comes from the northern Alajuela region, where they work with 240 smallholder cocoa farmers who live in the area. Many of those farmers live and harvest their cacao in extremely remote regions of Northern Costa Rica, which means that without Nahua it’s unlikely most of this cacao would ever be seen by anyone in the outside world!
The people of Nahua Cacao are also deeply committed to the social impact of their trade, and have made it a priority to empower smallholder farmers through technical, ecological and social programs.
While cacao itself has a long history in the region, Nahua found that many of the farmers there lacked knowledge of best practices in tree management and harvesting. In order to improve that situation, Nahua implemented a Cacao Renovation Program that helps smallholder farmers increase productivity, access financing, reach international markets, and preserve the natural environment of the region.
Nahua Cacao created and runs a local, centralized fermentation facility so that they can control the fermentation and drying of the beans. This reduces the workload of the farmers while significantly raising the quality and consistency of the final cacao.
In a world of monoculture cacao farms, disregard for ecosystems, and farmers who can barely survive on the wages they make, Nahua Cacao is doing things the right way. They produce a beautiful product, and they do it without harming the land or the farmers. At Origin Chocolate, we are proud to support this type of organization. Enjoy!