In 2014, Moka Farms was founded in Cameroon, West Africa. At our core, we strive to elevate the human element of farm-to-table production, investing in the families, friends, and neighbors we meet along the way. Whether it's on our own farm, through our Moka Cacao Farmer Cooperative, or our Food For Schools program, we collaborate with our farming communities to increase economic opportunity, and improve food security and nutrition. We do this by growing local food crops, creating farmer field schools, and introducing cash crops to neighboring farmers.
How it all began
From our first visit to Cameroon in 2006, we fell in love with the country and its people, and have been proud to call it home for a decade. A generous grant of land helped us invest in creating the ultimate farm-to-bean-to-bar experience. This was the genesis of our commitment to cultivate and hand-source the finest cacao and coffee in the world.
Nestled deep in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, West Africa, our cacao, plantain, and food crop farm is a paradise on earth. This particular region is cut off from running water, electricity and paved roads, making it essential that we invest in these utilities before anything else.
We had to build everything from the ground up—literally! We began by creating infrastructure essential for sustainable farm operations: a staff camp, solar electric system, tree nursery, well, river irrigation system, and an internal road network.
Moka Farm Team
Beginning with a small but dedicated crew, our core team quickly expanded. Farmers, agriculturalists, and just about everyone from the nearby community expressed interest in joining Moka.
Local Food Crops
In addition to promoting cash crops such as cacao and plantain, one of our farm’s primary objectives is to create food self-sufficiency for our local community. This dovetails with local farmers’ main goal of increasing their crop yields to earn a better livelihood. On our own farm and for partner farms, modern agricultural technology such as tractors and irrigation are critical to success. But defying conventional wisdom, our biggest breakthroughs have arisen through teaching and practicing fundamental principles of agronomy and crop planning.
This is where it all begins. In our nursery, we hand-pick the best quality seeds sourced from world-class research institutes. This ensures that the farmers will have the best quality seedlings, significantly improving the chances of growing healthy and productive trees.
Planting and Harvesting
Before being transplanted from the nursery, the placement of each seedling is carefully calculated. In many cases, we plant specific shade-giving trees such as citrus and banana alongside the cacao seedling. In addition to ensuring adequate shade for healthy cacao production, this also helps farmers earn a better financial return more consistently throughout the year. The terroir also contributes to the complex, nuanced flavor of our beans.
About 3-4 years after planting, the cacao seedlings begin to bear pods. Upon ripening, cacao pods turn bright shades of yellow or orange, and are carefully harvested from the trees.
After splitting the pod, the wet cacao-bean mass is scooped out, heaped into piles, and fermented for about 3-7 days (depending on the variety of cacao). Proper fermentation is essential in transforming raw cacao’s natural bitterness into the rich chocolatey flavor we’ve come to love.
Immediately after fermenting, the beans are washed and sun-dried. This step stops the fermentation process and produces a semi-stable bean, which is less likely to mold or decay.
The art of transforming raw cacao into chocolate begins on the farm. Proper harvesting, fermenting, drying, and handling of raw cacao beans all dramatically impact the flavor of the chocolate they ultimately produce. We make small batches of chocolate on site at our farm so our farmers can taste the fruits of their labors. This immediate, on-site feedback helps guide our growing and post-harvest best practices.