Location: Santiago de Sisa, Peru
Tasting Notes: Red fruits, Bold, Fresh Herbs
Varieties: Native Trinitarios and Criollos
Fermentation Style: Wooden Boxes
Drying Style: Sun dried over elevated nets. Shade finished
Elevation: 300-600 meters
Harvest Season: Main Harvest April- July
About San Martin
These organic beans come from the San Martin department. This area is prominently mountains, that are about 300-900m above sea level, with various native communities. A difficult terrain for traditional farming, but the best for cacao! The cacao varieties in this region are mainly native and aromatic Trinitarios and Criollos.
We work with organized groups of farmers and communities who produce mostly aromatic cacao. We pay the co-operative above market farmgate price. And are extremely careful when we are procuring the beans. Harvesting is very important, only ripe pods are harvested. One of our goals is for the farmers to make better quality. Better quality means they will get more money – and the goal is for them to become sustainable (and for cacao to not be a ‘commodity’). Over the years we have provided our expertise and feedback for free over many meetings and workshops and visits to help farmers and co-ops optimize their harvesting, fermenting and drying processes.
The cooperative we mainly work with in San Martin buys cacao from 435 producers. 224 of the registered organic producers are women. The average hectarage is 2 per producer. The co-op itself has 47 full time employees, of which 20 are women. They also have 23 part time employees, of which 11 are women.
Regarding the Region: The areas of this department in the past was dominantly coca plant farming areas. Though there is absolutely nothing wrong or illegal with planting coca, as it is a fantastic plant for various medicinal purposes and has a rich history with the Incan past and the descendant communities (it is a sacred plant for many), we all know that unfortunately it is also the main ingredient in the illegal production of Cocaine drug. The area was ripe with malicious, dangerous, oppressing activities…So, for some years now both the Peruvian government and also various international governments, including the USA, have helped in the promotion for alternative crops. This is where coffee and cacao come in. Despite that the cacao tree has been in this region for millennia, it was now used as a great promoter for a better way of life…more sustainable income and better for the sustainability of the rainforest.
San Martin now produces ~43% of Peru’s cacao production – by far the largest cacao production department in Peru (Most other departments are about 1-2%, with the exception of: Huánuco with ~8%, Cuzco with ~9%, Ucayali with ~12% and Junín with ~20%)
One important thing to note is that the Peruvian government did great by promoting the organic cacao production in Peru. This has led to Peru being one of the biggest exporters of organic cacao beans in the world, (Even though overall Peruvian cacao production is about ~3% of the worlds’ production) making San Martin the mecca for organic cacao!