Cocoa Pods, Conferences, & Chocolate Tastings. Notes from Shawn’s 12th Ecuador Origin Trip:
In the rainforest. This pod is not perfect. I’m not going to go into all of the details but this pod is beautiful and with care will make some of the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. I care about this cocoa pod, but I care more about the people who grew it. You won’t find very many posts on our sites of pretty pod pictures. The majority of what you see are pictures of people.
I have believed with all my heart from the beginning of our little company that if we pursue meaningful relationships with people the beans will take care of themselves. I think over 10 years that has proven to be the case. Don’t get me wrong I like rare and sought after cocoa beans just as much as the next person. And we are continually providing technical assistance. But it’s not our primary pursuit and never has been. I’ve been coming to Ecuador meeting with farmers for 12 years. Even now it is not boring, it is not mundane. The reason is because I started the trip hoping to experience wonder, adventure and friendships. The cultivation of this intention over the years is one of the reasons that our chocolate tastes the way it does.
For the third year in a row, I attended the ProEcuador agricultural conference as a special guest of the country’s government. This annual trade show is a big event for the cocoa community and I enjoy meeting all of the small farmers from across the country and even got a picture next to the Ecuador Minister of Trade!
You think it’s fog but not really. I am in the clouds in more ways than one. Technically, I’m in a cloud forest at about 2500 ft. This ecosystem is wondrous and mysterious. I kind of feel lighter hiking in it, as if I could fly if I wanted to. The farmers leading me are used to it but don’t take this delight for granted. I almost forgot… there’s cocoa here too.