In our processing facility in the Maranon Canyon, Peru we have three long drying beds. We use them for drying our Pure Nacional cacao. Drying cacao is a super important part of the process that eventually leads to chocolate. If you under dry a cacao bean it will be sour. If you over dry cacao it becomes bitter.
Cacao must be constantly moved around on the dryer beds. Otherwise, only one side of the bean will be exposed to the sun. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a bean that is too dry on one side and not dry enough on the other.
That’s why we’ve hired two single mother from the local community to work with us. Yasmin is only 18. She has twin baby boys. Yessica is a little older and has three children. She’s got a wise look to her and is a very good cook. Her family has a small restaurant down the street from our facility.
All day long, they work with the beans on the dryer beads. They sift through the cacao looking for any beans that aren’t perfectly shaped or may have been damaged earlier in the process. The beans are moved around gently as the girls do their selection work.
It takes three to six days for beans to dry in the Maranon Canyon. The biggest single factor affecting drying time is the weather. When it rains, the drying process takes much longer. Since the beans dry outside, under the sun, the process is extremely dependent on climate. I just spoke with my brother Brian a couple of days ago and he informed me that the Canyon is currently experiencing torrential rain fall. Good for us that it is early in the harvest season and we don’t have a lot of beans out on the beds just yet.
We taste the beans throughout the drying phase of the process. As you become more expert at tasting the subtleties of cacao, you can taste when a bean is perfectly dry. It will have a perfect, nutty, cacao flavor. There is no vinegar left in the bean and it has not completely lost its juiciness. Of course, we don’t rely on taste alone. We test the moisture in the beans multiple times every day with an electronic moisture tester.
Literally the moment that the beans are dry enough, they come off the dryer beds. We pack the cacao in industrial grade jute bags and take them down to our warehouse. The warehouse provides a cool environment, isolated from any elements that could affect the flavor.
The bags hold 110 pounds of cacao beans. Along with our workers, we put these heavy bags up on our shoulders and lug them down to the warehouse. No wonder I lost 18 pounds down there! It is hard work. We could easily just leave the beans up at the facility, but the conditions are not ideal.
That is what we’re all about. Our Fortunato No. 4 chocolate is made with cacao beans that have been obsessed over. We cut no corners. From the point of origin until the time you enjoy the luxurious chocolate, every detail has been scrutinized over. The farmers are well trained and receive a far above market price for their cacao. We have a large and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about cacao. Of course, we have Yasmin and Yessica making sure that only perfect beans go into the chocolate.
Beans that are dried to perfection make phenomenal chocolate. Fortunato No. 4 is just such a chocolate. We invite you to taste for yourself the rarest, most cared for chocolate in the world.