About The Region
We can’t believe it, but it’s been more than a decade since Moka co-founders Jeff and Ishan first visited Cameroon! In 2006 they came to the country to spearhead health and educational initiatives in West Africa for the nonprofit Himalayan Institute Cameroon, and the country has become dear to our heart. The southern rainforest is known for its lush and humid growing environment, which creates an ideal growing conditions for great-quality cacao. This forest is also home to thousands of animal, bird, and plant species. The dense vegetation creates the perfect shaded environment to protect cacao trees from the harsh sunlight, and the wet conditions allow the cacao to flourish in the area. With large changes in elevation, cacao is often grown in deep valleys, coupled with some of the most nutrient dense soil on the planet. These conditions allow the crop to create unique and complex flavors special to this region.
Seventy percent of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa, but this region is dominated by buyers focused on acquiring commodity, bulk beans at the lowest prices possible. That means many craft makers have not used beans from this area of the world — until now.
The Moka Origins Story
While operating the Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian programs in Cameroon, we got to know many cacao farmers who were having trouble growing and selling cacao. To understand better, Jeff bought local beans as well as a small roaster and grinder and started making chocolate on site. He realized how much the conditions at origin influence bean quality and ultimately the market’s value (i.e., the price) of the beans. Without improving these conditions, farmers are stuck in a cycle of poverty. In 2015 the Cameroonian government and the region’s tribal kings gifted us an area of farmland in the Northwest region’s Mbo plains for Moka Farm, where we train and educate locals on cacao, crop diversification, and food self-sufficiency. We hired Cameroonian experts (not foreigners) to lead this. Our management team is all Cameroonian, and we believe in local leadership to architect the vision and operate the programs. In 2019 the cacao trees we planted have finally started to produce cacao pods, and we look forward to eventually making and sharing chocolate directly from Moka Farm.
Meet Stanley Ngoe
Meanwhile we are so proud to make our single-origin Cameroon bar with a second-generation Cameroonian cacao farmer’s beans! While working in Cameroon, he met Stanley Ngoe in Kombone Village, a forested area in the Southwest region. Stanley was born and raised on a cacao farm, and his father taught him the art of fermentation and proper drying, which is essential to producing high-quality flavor profiles. So it was no surprise that he produced the best beans in the village. In 2017 we started buying beans from him. Jeff and Stanley’s friendship and mutual respect for each other was instant, and you can taste it in the chocolate!
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True to our origins, we continue to invest directly into our farming project in Cameroon to bring you a premium collection of Moka Origins products.Shop Our Collection