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Rescuing an endangered cacao.

Criollo cacao is often referred to as the "Holy Grail" of chocolate, and for good reason. This precious cacao variety accounts for only 0.01% of the world's cacao production, making it incredibly rare.

Grown in select regions of Central and South America, Criollo cacao trees are sensitive and delicate, making them challenging to cultivate.

However, their exceptional flavour and aroma more than make up for the effort required to grow them.

The discovery of an unparalleled cacao varietal.

In 1994, Gianluca Franzoni, the founder of the Italian chocolate company Domori, put down the foundations for a major project to recover and rescue this extraordinary cacao.

After studying the Criollo variety and its characteristics in Venezuela, hand in hand with local growers and research centres, he set out to help ensure the rare varietal would survive, and to share the special taste of Criollo with people across the world.

Plantation of young Criollo cacao trees at Hacienda San Jose, in Venezuela. Criollo cacao is the rarest and most expensive cacao in the World.

Setting up the Criollo nursery.

The same year, the first nursery was set up to help young cacao trees grow and establish themselves. It was the start of Hacienda San José. 

Today, the Hacienda is home to seven Criollo varieties and hundreds of grafted trees spanning 185 hectares. As a testament to the success of the project, the global yield of Criollo cacao has gone from 0.001% to 0.01%.

Fermented and dried Criollo cacao beans grown at Hacienda San Jose in Venezuela


The future of Criollo cacao.

Through this partnership, Domori is now one of the World's largest producers and suppliers of transformed Criollo cacao, and we are very lucky to be part of the Domori group.


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