Hi patient chocophiles!
We just wanted to post another quick update since we expected to have the cacao by now and we've been getting a lot of questions about when the reward bars will be shipped out.
We are waiting expectantly for the cacao to be shipped from Chiapas as well and we call or email the CASFA coop in Chiapas everyday to encourage the shipment along. It seems that the cacao grower Don Isidro wasn't able to harvest enough cacao to meet our requested 1000 lb shipment this season due to heavy rains. There may also have been some issues with the frosty pod fungus, moniliasis, that has greatly reduced cacao fruit yields in Xoconusco over the last few years. Regardless, this isn't something that can be fixed now so we're trying to find another farm nearby that has excellent quality beans to make up the missing 500 lbs. Working with CASFA, we think we've located one and are hoping that they will start the shipment in the next week or so, but we will keep you updated.
We were really hoping to have the beans here, roasted, ground, & molded into bars by now before the holidays, but this looking unlikely now. I know many of you may have been expecting the bars as potential holiday gifts so one option is that we can send you reward bars made using our other Latin American cacao source in the Domincian Republic. These are organic fair trade cacao beans of excellent quality and flavor and we can still flavor the bars with the Oaxacan spices, they just won't be made with the Xoconusco cacao. We'll send out a survey to see who is interested in this option. We're really sorry about the slow pace of this part of the project but think that aside from calling everyday, the only other way to get the shipment going faster is to fly down there, but that would add another $1500 to the cost of the beans, money we don't have to spare!
We have started playing with the small amounts of patashte or jaguar cacao we have, seeing how it tastes in chocolate bars. Our first experiments are promising, but need some refinement. Attached is a photo of the jaguar cacao beans post roasting and grinding away in one of our stone chocolate conch/grinders. So we have been working, not sitting idle waiting for the cacao to arrive! We also just found out we won an honorable mention for best bean-to-bar chocolate at the NW Chocolate Festival and our chocolate is now being sold as far away as Belgium, where a great chocolatier Geert Vercruysse is making beautiful chocolate bon bons with our different flavored chocolates like Coconut Milk & Caramelized Ginger.
So thank you again for your patience, and please let us know if you have any other questions about the long process of chocolate making! Have a wonderful Hanaramakwanzmafestivusolstice!