Farms and Origins
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 more than 50 years of combined experience in cacao, owners Adriano de Jesus Rodriguez and Gualberto Acebey Torrejon have fine-tuned their systems to ensure consistent, superior quality in their 450 tons of annual production. Öko Caribe maintains close relationships with its 181 farmers through technical training, in agronomic practices and organic certification. In addition, owners Adriano and Gualberto have personal relationships with all farmers, offering microfinance loans for cacao-related expenses, as well as personal loans for family emergencies or other community needs. The loyalty between Öko Caribe and the farmers they work with is not only evidenced in daily interactions between staff, management, and farmers but also in their best-in-class, award-winning final product.
Drive through the dramatic volcanic highlands of Guatemala towards the Pacific coast and land at Monte Grande, a family-owned farm near the border with Chiapas, Mexico. The farm, which includes cacao, rubber, and palm, was purchased in 1867 by the Conde family with six gold coins. This region of Guatemala, known as “Costa Sur,” was historically the country’s center of cacao production and genetic research, but when prices dropped in the 1970s most cacao was abandoned. Since 1984, the Conde family has been planting new varieties and propagating selected trees from the farm. Today, the cacao farm is 19 hectares and expanding with 11 hectares of seedlings grown in the farm’s own nursery designed for water conservation and multi-crop propagation. Antonio Conde, 26 years old and a graduate of Earth University in Costa Rica, manages the farm on behalf of his family and seeks to replace as many of the farm’s former palm and rubber plots as possible with cacao agroforestry, setting an example for other estates in the region.