Traveling to Zamora, Amazonia involves a plane, a car, and a boat.
Located in southeastern Ecuador, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, Zamora is lush and fertile, if not challenging to navigate–the tiny village is perched on cliffs, “in the clouds.” The topography is simply stunning and perhaps the most beautiful overall that I’ve ever seen. The families, many of whom are indigenous, plant their small cocoa farms on terraced land. The cocoa trees are surrounded by “primary” forest (untouched) forest -rainforest.
The indigenous Shuar tribe have lived here for thousands of years. In 2010, archeologists uncovered a vessel with shreds of cocoa molecules which were carbon dated to 3300 BC. The Shuar used the cocoa to make a drink. Fast forward 5,000 years and the beans we purchase from this village are descendants of the originals; the same is true for the farmers we are buying from.
We’re proud to release Zamora as our first new origin since 2010, and our second chocolate bar produced in partnership with a female-led farmer group. Working with small coops helmed by women has become a cornerstone of our direct trade model and we’re honored to work with lead farmer partner, Monica Guaman, who is pictured on the front of the chocolate bar. Monica’s family has been growing and harvesting cocoa for generations. She, along with her husband and adult children, harvest their own small farm and Monica leads the cocoa coop in their village, gathering and fermenting cocoa beans from neighbors who are smallholder cocoa farmers. Like each of our other origins, I visit the village to work with the cocoa farmers, bring chocolate for them to taste, inspect our cocoa beans, and share profits.