Dominican Cacao: It's Not Just About Great Chocolate!

Dominican Cacao: It's Not Just About Great Chocolate!

Posted by Faraji Starks on

We pay a premium price, on top of an already specialty-priced bean, for every pound of Dominican Republic’s Reserva Zorzal cacao. These beans are incredibly special, their taste is uncommonly unique, and the post-harvest practices these farmers employ are noteworthy. But even so, the extra costs associated with these beans are not just for their flavor or for the influential name that Zorzal has made for themselves. These farmers are creating global change, migratory impact, and climate change mitigation, using chocolate as their vehicle. So much so, that investing in these beans is an absolute honor and vastly outweighs the price that we pay for them. This is the destination in June 2019 for our Chocolate Rainforest Trip: Reserva Privada Zorzal Estate and the “Forever Wild” conservation forest of the Bicknell's Thrush, located in the Duarte Region of the Dominican Republic.

Located in the heart of the Dominican Republics cacao producing region, these farmers are dedicated towards protecting biodiversity, and are accomplishing this through growing and harvesting cacao.

The 1,019 acres of Reserva Zorzal are precisely mapped and conservation efforts for this species are recorded with scientific methods, data, and observation. Over just 2 years of data, they recorded the migratory bird Bicknell’s Thrush population growth at 30% within their own forest.



Along with habit restoration, Zorzal has been focusing on the conservation of the Bicknell’s thrush, and through their effort they have been seeing incredible results and plan to accomplish 25% growth of the entire species within the next 50 years. The Bicknell’s Thrush is a native North-American songbird that usually populates fir and spruce tree forests. This endangered species has a unique migratory period, usually flying between the east coast in North America and the Dominican Republic between mating season and winter seasons. Through their efforts, Zorzal is linking “farmers, governments, scientists, non-profits, chocolate producers, and investors behind cacao production and habitat protection for the Bicknell’s thrush in the tropics as well as in the United States and Canada” (

These farmers are presenting an example to all of us, to showcase how chocolate can be an instrument of change. Its a great honor to be visiting this farm in June of 2019 as part of our Rainforest Chocolate Trip.

Having a direct relationship with our cacao farming partners is incredibly important and special to us. Throughout the many of years of running humanitarian projects, and eventually founding the Moka Origins farm in Cameroon, we’ve been able to develop long lasting friendships with the farmers that supply us with our chocolate and coffee beans. These relationships have been expanding ever since, and now our farming partners exist all over the globe. Knowing exactly where these beans come from, how they are grown, and which individual or team takes the time to cultivate the incredible flavors we enjoy, gives us an entirely new appreciation for the coffee and chocolate we’ve been enjoying for years. Even more so, knowing that these relationships benefit farmers, the environment, and even endangered species, makes enjoying chocolate and coffee even more pleasurable.

Travel With Us

We’ll be hiking, camping and volunteering this June at Zorzal in the Dominican Republic and hope you’ll consider joining us.

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