The quality of our chocolate products starts from the beans and the farmers play an integral role in the production of the fine flavour cacao we use in our products.
It is extremely important to the quality of our products that we start with fresh cacao beans. Each week, our 150 participating farmers harvest only the ripe pods from the cacao trees. The beans are carefully extracted by the farmers and picked up by our bean buying team within six hours of being harvested. After careful transportation through the lush Belize mountains, the beans arrive at our centralized processing facility in Crique Jute Village to begin fermentation.
In Belize, our farms are made up predominantly of the Trinitario cacao variety (with a small percentage of Criollo). The Trinitario is a meticulously hand-grafted hybrid from the (harder to grow) Criollo known for its fine flavor chocolate and Forastero, a hardier cacao tree that is more resistant to weather and disease.
The Trinitario cacao variety was specifically chosen because it is the best of both worlds, a durable tree with high production that also produces high quality beans with all the traits necessary to produce fine flavor chocolate.
Our unique organic “Peini” blend offers deep notes of nuts, tropical fruits, vanilla and coconuts.
Currently we have 3 farms established consisting of a total of 107 acres of Fine Flavor, Certified Organic cacao and, most importantly, all of our farms are operated using environmentally and socially sustainable practices.
Our cacao beans are sourced from ecologically and sustainably managed farms. With our support the farmers employ good agricultural practices to ensure their trees have adequate sunlight, nutrients and care to yield only the highest quality cacao. We achieve this by maintaining rigorous farming practices that include soil and tree improvements, shade management, pest and disease control. Our extension officers visit these farmers to ensure that their practices continually meet our very high standards of sustainability and ecologically grown cacao.
Harvest is a vitally important part of our seed-to-bean process. This stage is controlled by our farmers and Farm Manager for our Peini Farms. Our team visits each farm to ensure that our farmers adhere to the strict harvesting protocol established by our technical team. By harvesting and cracking only the ripe pods before extracting the seeds correctly we can be guaranteed the highest quality beans. We provide constant training and recommendations for the farmers so they can improve their farming practices.
The fermentation process is a major part of developing the cacao flavor. The beans are weighed and checked (to ensure they are free from any foreign object) before they are placed in cascading (5 tier) wooden fermentation boxes. The beans are fermented for 6 days following the fermentation protocol established as per the characteristics of each batch. Cut tests and temperature readings are recorded every two days so as to monitor the fermentation progress. Amendments are made to achieve the desired fermentation percentage ratio.
Energy from the Sun! The beans are dried using passive solar energy, although this is sometimes challenging in a sub-tropical climate with high humidity especially during inclement weather conditions. Fortunately our optimally positioned, carefully structured and purpose-built drying facility with roll out drying racks aids the slow drying of the beans. To achieve an even dryness the beans are turned constantly by a team of experienced post-harvest personnel led by our Quality Control Manager.
Beans are dried until they reach a moisture content of 6.5%, achievable in 6 days during bright sunny conditions.