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Source: Co-operative

Region: Central south jungle

Department: Junín, Ayacucho, Cusco

Elevation: 400-1300m

Yearly Rainfall: >1500mm (59 inches)

Genetics: Native VRAEs, Native Chunchos, with Criollos and Trinitarios

Harvest Season: Mar-Jul (major); Dec (minor)

Tasting Notes: Fruity with floral to herbal notes.

Fermentation Style: 6-7 days in Tornillo hardwood boxes; daily bean rotation after first 2 days.

Drying Style: 6-8 days – sun then shade dried. On tarps and mesh drying shelves.

The VRAE bean origin is made up of a variety of exceptional Native aromatic cacaos, including VRAE-15, VRAE-99, and Native Chunchos, as well as Criollos and Trinitarios. It’s harvested at an altitude of 400-1300 m and expresses a flavour profile toward fruity (soursop, mandarin, custard apple) with herbal to floral notes.

The fermentation is done in Tornillo hardwood boxes—an exceptional type of wood for fermenting that does not add flavours to the cacao—and lasts six to seven days with a bean rotation done every day after the first two days. After a very well-controlled box fermentation, the VRAE beans then get transferred to mounds to dry, stirring the mounds for two to four days depending on sun exposure. From there, the mounds are spread out over covered tarps or mesh shelves where they finish drying in the shade. The total drying process typically takes around seven days but can vary due to cloud cover and weather conditions. 

So, what does VRAE stand for and where is this region located?

It’s an acronym for Valley of the Rivers: Apurímac, Ene, Mantaro. Technically, it should be VRAEM, but the norm has been VRAE (sorry, Mantaro River). This valley resides at the intersection of these three rivers on the border of the departments of Junín, Ayacucho, and Cusco. A humid and fertile tropical region with >1500mm yearly rainfall that’s perfect for growing exceptional cacao, among other things. 

What adds even more intrigue to this bean is the role it’s played in reshaping the VRAE region. Historically, this has been an area with considerable coca leaf production—a crop with various medicinal functions that’s inextricably linked to the Indigenous way of life which, unfortunately, also happens to be the main ingredient in cocaine. As a way of freeing people from the oppressive farming conditions and to disrupt the illicit cocaine supply chain, the Peruvian government alongside other international governments have been incentivizing alternative crop growing, like coffee and cacao.

For over 15 years, this international collaboration has assisted farmers with networking, infrastructure, management, security, and certifications (organic), helping the people of this region achieve more dependable income, more environmentally sustainable farming practices, and a better way of life.

Some of the beneficiaries of these efforts have been the farmers of the El Quinacho co-op. A co-op we’ve had the pleasure of working with for several years that has grown to include 255 producers (of which 89 are women) managing an average of 1.35 hectares. 

So, when we say this is a “good” bean, we’re talking about more than just taste.



5kg boxes available in our shop. For any other volumes please contact us.

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