Origin Report: Öko Caribe, Dominican Republic

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Nestled in the heart of the cacao rich Duarte province in the Dominican Republic, Öko-Caribe (or “eco-Caribe” in German) is a gem amongst cacao suppliers. With 20 solar drying decks and two separate fermentation houses, Öko-Caribe has the capacity to produce 4-6 times more than the current 450 tons they export each year. With fine-tuned systems and processes, and 50 years of combined expertise in cacao from both owners, Adriano and Gualberto, Öko-Caribe consistently produces well-fermented beans, with the finest cacao flavor.

Öko-Caribe maintains excellent relationships with its 165 farmers. All farmers receive technical training in all agronomic skills as well as in organic certification policies and practices. In addition, owners Adriano and Gualberto have personal relationships with each farmer, offering microfinance loans for cacao-related expenses, as well as personal loans for family and community needs. Finally, farmers are organized into smaller associations, and these associations are able to commit to social projects in their communities with additional income from Öko-Caribe’s farm gate prices, which are higher than the local market.

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Hard hit by weather in 2016, the Dominican Republic had a low-production year all around, and Öko-Caribe was no exception. The harvest all happened quickly, within only 2 months, compromising quality. While weather somewhat normalized in 2017, and production increased again, 2018 brought a delayed and low harvest. Öko-Caribe normally sees cacao from January up until July, but this year the harvest started in February and will be over by June.

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Our first 2018 container has just landed, and the cacao is of the high-quality, consistent beans we are accustomed to from this origin. We found a 94% fermentation rate, less than 2% broken, flat, and double beans, and the characteristic cinnamon chocolate smell we know and love.