The Antilles is chain of islands in the Caribbean reaching from Cuba down to the northern coast of Venezuela. The second largest of these islands is Hispaniola, now shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Cocoa was first planted on Hispaniola in the early 1600s. Over the following several decades, additional varieties were introduced from various Latin American regions.
Cocoa farms now make up 10% of the Dominican Republic’s green area. Most of this cultivation is by smallholders, where some 40,000 cocoa farms belong to 35,000 families! These farms are home to many endemic species, improve the lives of workers, and contribute to the Dominican Republic’s economic growth. They also play a vital role in the protection of the natural environment.
For years, Dominican cocoa was considered low quality, astringent, bitter, and poorly fermented. That changed when Dominican producers began to improve the varieties grown and adopted better fermentation and drying methods.
One leader of this movement was the Rizek family. Rizek Cacao is known for its passion for cocoa production. It has been a family business since 1905, and is today led by its fourth and fifth generations. Their mission is to provide continuity in the tradition of fine cocoa, while hailing the innovation and passion instilled by each new generation. Their farms, located in the heart of the Dominican Republic, are distinguished by the excellence of their genetic material and extraordinary post-harvest preparation.
Rizek is also committed to the protection of the Dominican forests and environment as a whole. They created the non-profit FUPAROCA to assist cocoa farmers, preserve natural resources, and protect biodiversity. They work with more than 6,000 cocoa farmers and their communities to plant and rehabilitate farms, provide technical assistance, improve yield and quality, and protect the environment. This is why they are one of the few cocoa bean suppliers we can trust in making our small batch chocolate bars.
Read more about Rizek Cacao on their webpage at www.rizekcacao.com.
Find our products made from Rizek’s cocoa beans here.