Less than 10 miles inland from the town of Muisne in the Esmeraldas province. Cacao orchards were established six years ago on former cattle pasture with very steep terrain. Establishment of cacao, timber, and other fruit trees has reduced erosion on the farm site. Esmeraldas has an unusual climate, with little variation in average temperatures. The region has relatively short wet season from January to May each year, but during the dry season, the weather is almost always overcast with light drizzling rain.
Costa Esmeraldas is a family owned and operated 100-hectare cacao farm. All members of the Salazar family (Fredy, Monica, and siblings Freddy and Indira) actively participate in the cacao business. Freddy is directly responsible for managing operations at the farm and post-harvest center. Management of the cacao orchards create over 40 full-time jobs within the local community in rural Esmeraldas.
Fermentation is executed using a five-tiered cascade system. Cedar wood boxes with ~450 kg capacity. The fermenting mass is turned once at 36 hours, and then every morning until fermentation is complete. Total duration of fermentation is 5 ½ days. All cacao is sun dried on sliding mesh racks. High-walled polyethylene tunnels cover all drying structures. Gradual drying is practiced during the first three days. Finish-drying to a moisture content of 7% is on concrete patios. All dry cacao is stored in breathable jute bags for at least two months to allow oxidation and volatilization of acidity. After aging, beans are checked for moisture content, and if necessary, spread for re-drying.