Öko Caribe is a fermentary founded in 2006 by Gualberto Torrejon and Adriano Rodriguez, two cacao professionals with extensive experience in cacao production throughout Latin America. Since its inception, Öko Caribe has been purchasing wet beans from smallholder farmers and fermenting and drying them at their centralized processing location in the Duarte Province of the Dominican Republic.
Öko Caribe currently works with 165 farmers who are formed into regional base organizations which receive training and funding. All pods are pre-selected prior to opening as a part of Öko Caribe’s quality protocol.
Öko Caribe ensures that all of the wet beans it purchases arrive to the fermentation center in less than 6 hours. They are all fermented in a cascading 4-box tier system. Fermentation lasts for 5-6 days, and can be tailored to customer's specifications. Given the humid, tropical climate with frequent rains, Öko Caribe uses solar tunnel drying houses to dry their beans to 7% moisture.
CACAO IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Cocoa cultivation presently covers around 10% of Dominican Republic’s land area. The large majority of it is grown by small to medium sized farms, large commercial plantations are rare. The Dominican Republicrepresents the majority of organically cultivated cacao in the world.
There are two grades of cacao in the Dominican Republic: Sanchez, which refers to unfermented cacao sold to commodity markets, and Hispaniola, which refers to cacao that has been treated to controlled fermentation. The varieties found on the island are today are Venezuelan Criollo, Trinitario, Nacional of Ecuador and hybrids with a high presence of Trinitarios and Nacional of Ecuador.
Cocoa came to the Dominican Republic over 300 years ago. There were, at first, several unsuccessful attempts to plant cocoa in Spanish territories throughout the Caribbean, and it wasn’t until 1665 that cocoa finally made it to the Dominican Republic as an established form of agriculture.
FARMER FIELD NOTES
Location: El Cibao Region, Duarte Province
Nearest City: San Francisco de Macoris
Elevation: 200 - 350 meters
Variety: Trinitario, Criollo, Nacional
Fermentation Style: Centralized, 4 tiers of wooden boxes
Drying Style: Solar drying beds
Harvest Months: March to July
Certifications; Organic (USDA, NOP, JAS), UTZ
Founders: Adriano Rodriguez, Gualberto Torrejon