The first full container of beans that Dandelion Chocolate purchased came from Bertil Akesson’s Bejofo Estate in Ambanja, Madagascar. The Estate has been growing cacao since 1920 and we bought our first container of these beans in 2012. Akessons 600 hectare Bejofo Estate, has trees that are up to 80 years old, and it is the largest single estate that we work with. Bertil’s operation is smooth and consistent. Every morning during harvest season, farmworkers cut down about 400 or so ripe pods each, crack them open, and move them quickly into fermentation boxes where they stay for six days. Fermenting them immediately after harvest is a crucial piece of quality control and Bertil focuses on ensuring this happens within hours. Once fermented the beans dry briefly in full sun on cement patios before being moved to elevated drying decks to slowly finish drying.
While it’s hard to know for certain, we believe this drying process is partially responsible for the flavor of the beans. We are proud to work with Bertil both because we love his beans and because we believe that he has paved the way for much of the development of specialty cacao that has happened in the last few years. The flavor of his beans change slightly every year but always have bright fruit and punchy acidity.