cacao origin profile: la red guaconejo (dr)

La Red cacao tree

Ten years ago in the lush farmlands of Northern Dominican Republic, near the Loma Guaconejo Scientific Reserve, local farmers changed the chocolate industry for the better. La Red Guaconejo, one of Raaka Chocolate’s biggest cacao suppliers, reimagined the way cacao plants are grown and distributed. The cacao plant is the primary ingredient in chocolate, making its quality crucial to the final product. By producing high quality, completely organic cacao and marketing directly to the US, La Red has established a thriving coalition of 160 family-run farms.

La Red began in 2003 with the help of Peace Corp volunteers and became a cooperative in 2008. Root Capital, a non-profit organization that helps to fund and develop small agricultural businesses in impoverished communities, helped La Red expand their business as an entirely fair-trade coop. By cutting out the middleman, La Red can pay its workers fairly and bring farmers and chocolatemakers together as partners--even though they're worlds away.

With the help of small chocolate companies like our friends at Taza Chocolate based in Somerville, Massachusetts, La Red strengthened its relationship with its American customers. Cacao farmers have traveled to the US to see how their product is transformed, and chocolate makers have paid visits to La Red’s farms. Taza chocolate has been instrumental in helping to spread the word about La Red’s product, which has become a preferred source of cacao among small-batch chocolate companies like Raaka.

Each cacao plant has unique flavor depending on where and when it was grown—its terrior. La Red cacao gives the finished chocolate bar a rich, dark, and complex taste, with layers of berry that mix well with many other ingredients.

We used La Red cacao in our bars from 2010 until 2013. Stay tuned! We hope to bring it back someday!