Our Processing Facilities

An integral part of what enables us to produce the highest quality products is that all the post-harvest processing is centralized, and managed in-house. None of it is outsourced. This is critical in controlling the quality and a key requirement for several end consumers who want to see complete traceability from seed to finished product.
Chocolate & Cacao Processing
Coffee Processing
The quality of our chocolate products starts from the beans and the farmers play an integral role in the production of the fine flavor cacao we use in our products.  

It is extremely important that we start with fresh cacao beans. Each week, our farmers harvest only the ripe cacao pods. The beans are carefully extracted by the farmers and picked up by our team within six hours of being harvested. After careful transportation through the lush Belize mountains, the beans arrive at our centralized processing facility in Crique Jute Village to begin fermentation.

Centralized Cacao Fermentation

The fermentation process is a major part of developing the cacao flavor. The beans are weighed and checked (to ensure they are free from any foreign object) before they are placed in cascading 3-tier wooden fermentation boxes. The beans are fermented for 6 days following a fermentation protocol established for the characteristics of each batch. Cut tests and temperature readings are recorded every two days to monitor the fermentation progress. Adjustments are made to achieve the desired fermentation percentage ratio.
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Cacao beans drying
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Centralized Cacao Drying

With some tweaks and modern structures, we dry our cacao beans as the native Maya did, using energy from the sun!

The beans are dried using passive solar energy, although this is sometimes challenging in a sub-tropical climate with high humidity, especially during inclement weather conditions.  Fortunately, our optimally positioned, carefully structured and purpose-built drying facility with roll-out drying racks aids the slow drying of the beans. To achieve an even dryness the beans are turned constantly by a team of experienced post-harvest personnel led by our Quality Control Manager.

Beans are dried until they reach a moisture content of 6.5%, achievable in 6 days during bright sunny conditions.

Gourmet Chocolate Making Factories

We operate two gourmet chocolate-making factories. Our original factory is in Toledo, Belize and our newer, 2nd factory is in Boquete, Panama. Both factories contain top-of-the-line chocolate processing equipment and a staff trained in crafting authentic bean-to-bar chocolate.

When the fermented and dried beans arrive from the depot they are once again hand sorted, then roasted to our specific roast profile. Then the beans are cracked and winnowed to remove the outer husk. What remains is called the Cacao Nib, an increasingly popular superfood!

The nibs are ground into a paste, then conched, tempered, and turned into chocolate!

To see this whole process from start to finish, we have prepared this video
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Wet and Dry Coffee Processing Mill (Beneficio)

In 2015/16, we new designed and built a state-of-the-art wet and dry coffee processing mill on one of our farms, Cuatro Caminos. Ideally located on a paved road with easy access to electricity and running water, it was the perfect location.

With top-of-the-line equipment from Pinhalense, we built a modern, environmentally friendly mill that operates a complete “closed-loop” system. This system means that no bi-products produced during the post-harvest process enter or negatively affect our environment.

During harvest season, the coffee cherries arrive from all the producing farms in our network to this centralized location. Although our farmers are carefully trained to select only the perfectly ripe cherries, you still end up with some under-ripe and over-ripe cherries along with some leaves and twigs. The first step is to separate the good cherries from everything else we just mentioned, leaving just the perfectly ripe cherries.

For the Natural process, these cherries are go to the drying stage, with the pulp/skin in tact.

In the Washed process, the mucilage is stripped off, and then the golden beans are washed and then passed to the dynamic dryer. Here they dried to a specific moisture content before they are stored in our hermedically sealed storage room, where it can be rested for up to 90 days. This resting period is a crucial step and is when the coffee developed its unique and complex flavor profile.
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Coffee cupping
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Proprietary Coffee Laboratory

Quality Control Management

To implimet our “Art of Coffee Science” we built our own on-site coffee quality testing laboratory.

Our compay follows international protocols established by the SCA (coffee cupping protocol) and PROMECAFE (Coffee Quality Analysis Protocol) to assess the quality of each coffee lot we produce in our farms. Thanks to our traceability system, we are in the position to manage separately each and every batch of coffee. This gives us a broad control range and the ability to detect problems in the farming or post harvest process, or defects in the exportable green bean.

In the lab, we have high-quality equipment specialized for coffee quality analysis. We have a two-barrel Probat sample roasting machine, CM-100 coffee color analyzer, SHORE Model 920C Moisture Tester, Pinhalense coffee grading sieves, and all the necessary ancillary equipment for professional specialty coffee cupping.

Profile Definition

Coffee cupping is a versatile strategy that allows us to assess the quality of the coffee and to classify or categorize the coffees we produce by identifying their attributes based on intensity, complexity and defects. In each cupping session, we follow international protocols that allow us to have a comparable result with other Q-Grader coffee cuppers worldwide.

Our lab has different traditional and 3rd-wave brewing systems that allow us to test each coffee and define its better uses and potential clients. For that purpose, we use different filter systems such as Chemex, V60, Kalita; full immersion systems such as French Press and a combination of immersion systems and filters such as AeroPress and Siphon. Furthermore, we have our own espresso machine to help us define coffee for espresso blends or single origin.

The coffee is evaluated based on aroma, fragrance, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, clean cup, sweetness and defects.