Origin Story: Dominican Republic Zorzal Cacao

Origin Story: Dominican Republic Zorzal Cacao

Posted by Faraji Starks on

Dominican Republic Zorzal Cacao has made a name for themselves. Founders of Moka Origins, Ishan and Jeff, travelled to the Dominican Republic upon invitation from friend and gracious host Maria-Luisa. During their stay, they were introduced to Zorzal and slept in their rainforest bird sanctuary and cacao demonstration farm, only to fall in love with this group of organic farmers at Reserva Zorzal.

Tucked in the mountains of the Duarte Province in the Dominican Republic, Reserva Zorzal is the first-ever cacao-producing private reserve in the country. Co-founder Dr. Charles Kerchner and his team at Zorzal work toward greater community development through innovation in agronomy, fermentation, drying, and ecological sustainability. Particular to Zorzal Cacao is their dedication to continuing conservation of the rare migratory songbird, the Bicknell’s thrush, whose native home lies within Reserva Zorzal’s 1,019 acre reserve. About 70% of the reserve is warranted as a “forever wild” sanctuary, while the remaining 30% produces cacao, macadamias, and bananas. In partnering with Zorzal Cacao, we seek to participate in the burgeoning efforts to give back to our earth and its many species.

Bicknell's Thrush, a rare migratory songbird native to Dominican Republic

Working with Zorzal Cacao to source our cacao beans started after discovering the Dominican Republic’s reputation for quality cacao production and post-harvest processing. These both exceed flavor expectation in comparison to cacao traditionally produced in Africa—largely as a result of proper fermentation, drying, and handling. In June of 2016, we took a five-day trip to the Dominican Republic to research these techniques so that we could adopt them for our work in Cameroon. While there, we visited four farms, including Reserva Zorzal. We concluded that the passion, commitment, and knowledge of Dr. Kerchner and the people of Reserva Zorzal fit our mission the best. We fell in love with the work being done on the reserve, which aligns strongly with our own. We equally fell in love with their incredibly delicious cacao and are proud to be crafting chocolate with beans from Zorzal Cacao, knowing that the higher price we pay for the beans goes back to a reforestation program led by Reserva Zorzal.

Our Cherry Dark Bar is made from Zorzal Cacao. Buying these beans directly supports these farms, rainforests, and their greater mission. That is why this month we are featuring Zorzal Cacao through our Cherry Bar in our Moka Box during the month of July. These beans naturally have tangy cherry and raspberry notes, which perfectly compliment the organic tart cherries we hand sprinkle on top.


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