Our origin story - Mashpi Chocolate

Our origin story - Mashpi Chocolate

About a decade ago, Alejandro, along with his wife Agustina (photo), established their home in the Mashpi River valley, nestled in the Andean Chocó region, renowned as one of Earth's most biodiverse areas, where nature has always flourished in its full glory. 

The farm they resided in conserved 80% of its area as forest, with the remaining 20% utilized as grassland. The pastures were overgrown with grass, and the cattle that used them had deeply compacted the soil. Concurrently, they observed that the expansion of monocultures, the use of agrochemicals, deforestation, and poor livestock practices were causing significant environmental deterioration.

Around that time, they discovered that the Chocó Andino area harbored endemic species of national cocoa, a biocultural heritage threatened mainly due to hybridization with varieties like CCN 51. Observing the native cocoa plants, they realized cocoa thrived in the forest shade and alongside other plants.

They decided to take action, aiming to prove to themselves and the community around them that regenerative and sustainable livelihoods were possible. Thus, Mashpi Chocolate was born, with conservation as their driving force. They began planting heirloom National Cacao in the grasslands within diverse agroforestry systems. Another key aspect of their project emerged: defending food sovereignty. With contributions from various sources and a desire for diversity, their collection of useful plants grew, and today hundreds of species thrive in beautiful harmony.

When they sold their first cocoa harvests, they encountered the harsh reality of rural life: the middleman. Their hard work was undervalued, and their invaluable national organic cocoa was mixed with hybrid cocoa treated with poison.

Determined not to let this continue, they set out to create the first chocolate resulting from comprehensive restoration, both environmental and social. Through trial and error, they fine-tuned and calibrated machines and palates—an adventure of smells, flavors, and challenges.

Fortunately, thanks to the diverse plants planted alongside cocoa, they diversified the flavors of their chocolate bars and cocoa powder. The first cardamom flowers bloomed, attracting hummingbirds in celebration. Months later, they proudly introduced a chocolate bar infused with sea salt and cardamom!

Through their commitment to agrobiodiversity, their family has grown, and they continue innovating guided by the needs of the landscape and the benefits of agroforests. Nature remains their wisest teacher, inexhaustible and always kind.

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