Bolivia El Ceibo
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Region and Country
Alto Beni, Bolivia
In Bolivia, cocoa is found naturally in the forests of Beni, Cochabamba and northern La Paz. These beans are supplied by El Ceibo. This is a second level cooperative, founded in 1977 by 12 grassroot cooperatives. El Ceibo brings together more than 1200 small producers dedicated to the cultivation of organic cocoa in the Alto Beni region. Since 1977 it has dedicated its efforts to improving the livelihoods of its associates. Since many years, El Ceibo in collaboration with PIAF (Program for implementation of Agro Ecology and Forestry) have promoted the cultivation of cocoa in agroforestry plantation systems, growing cocoa along fruit crops, medicinal plants and timber. Currently, it’s leading the way as an example in Bolivia to cooperatives dedicated to organic agriculture. An important pillar in the strategy of El Ceibo for the coming years is to engage youth in the cooperatives to guarantee succession.
April - September (main crop)
The original cocoa varieties were mainly criollos, nativos and silvestres. In the Alto Beni region, over time this native cocoa was replaced with foreign, more productive varieties. The hybrid varieties gained popularity with the arrival of new farming settlements in the Upper Beni region in the early sixties. Via a nursery, about 9 genetic types of local breeds are divided over the plantations.
Post Harvesting Process
Various protocols have been developed fit to the genetic varieties. The fermentation period for native Bolivia Criollos range from 3 to 4 days, whereas the hybrids need 7 to 9 days depending on weather and other external factors. The beans are fermented in wooden crates, which have small holes in the bottom to facilitate the outflow of cocoa pulp. During fermentation the beans are turned every 48 hours for 3 times, and every 24 hours after that. After fermentation, the beans are dried until a humidity of 7.5% is reached. During the drying period, the beans are raked up 4-5 times a day to realize uniform quality.
Flowery begin notes develop into pineapple and red fruit and finish with nuts (almond/hazelnut) and wood (tropical wood).