Two of the things that we’ve always wanted to import are cocoa (cacao) & chocolate products such as nibs, and raw cocoa pasta. We have met many smaller and medium sized producers, and visited farms and seen the whole process from picking the beans, fermentation, drying, roasting, cleaning, mixing and finally to adding ingredients to form something marvelous to the tongue…
Visiting Makao – Producers of Fine Chocolate
Last year, at Mistura, the foodie fair in Lima, we came across Makao, one of the relative newcomers to the chocolate market. Now, it’s been three years, and they continue to gain more acclaim. They are using high quality methods & are doing it in manner that helps the smaller growers.
First, we have to get from our hotel in Tarapoto to the little community of Pucacaca (yes, Virginia there is a Pucacaca) where Makao is located. Today, we’re going to take a colectivo, which is a shared car. This car will have 4 places, and we’ll take two at S./10 (about $3.30 USD)
Along the Huallaga River
We take a relaxing drive to Pucacaca, much of the ride affords gorgeous views of the (now engorged with recent rains) Huallaga River.
We arrive at Makao & are warmly welcomed. After a brief discussion, we are taken for a quick tour of the processing area. The cacao beans come in, and are roasted. From there, the shells are separated from the cacao “nibs” and are then ready for mixing and creating chocolate pasta. (Pasta is the raw cacao – 100% cacao)
Makao – Supporting the Community
Makao supports the community of Pucacaca not only by providing a consistent market for cacao, but by training in best growing methods, donating solar drying tents & tables, and even providing employment in the processing center itself. Other large importers are using their services prior to shipping their cocoa products to mainly Europe.
Solar Drying tents allow for a more consistent ambiance & allows for much closer quality control. The tents are good for reducing spoilage, and preserving the delicate flavors of the fresh cacao. Hygienic & efficient, each tent can process large quantities of cacao.
Makao also provides regular workshops so that the best cultivation methods can be used.
Organic Certification Pending
Makao has been diligently working to obtain their organic certification. Happily, they are in the final stages and hope to have this worthy work done this year.
One Startling Fact
Pucacaca is a small community & appears to be quiet and peaceful. Our host Arturo, the general manager of Makao told us that it’s because everyone is working on the coconut oil. In this little village they process 30,000 coconuts daily to provide high demand coconut oil.
Geeks Bearing Gifts
We returned to our hotel, laden with chocolate & coconut oil…
Visit Makao at their website here.
©2015 Ben Gangloff
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