A photo of Sonoran Desert cacti
An overhead view of a box of colorful Monsoon Chocolate bon bons
A decorative watercolor collage element
Make it rain chocolate graphic

Handcrafted in the Sonoran Desert

Making chocolate is a difficult task to begin with and making chocolate in the desert is quite the undertaking. However, we believe that anything worth doing should be a challenge.

The chocolate we make is truly a collaboration with the farm workers who grow, harvest, ferment, and dry the cacao. Our goal is to honor their hard work by processing the cacao as minimally as possible to reveal the beautiful and complex flavors inherent in the beans.

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Transparent Sourcing

A photo of the Ucayali River farm, where Monsoon Chocolate sources cacao

Ucayali River Cacao

Pucallpa, Peru

Ucayali River Cacao is a central fermentary that buys wet beans with nearly 400 cocoa farmers along the Ucayali River outside of the Peruvian city of Pucallpa. The region has a long and complex history of narco-trafficking and the presence of the Shining Path militant group. Ucayali River Cacao has partnered with USAID and Alianza Peru to offer a premium for wet cacao, giving local farmers access to an alternate market to cocaine.

What We Pay
$8,700
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of the Costa Esmeraldas farm, where Monsoon Chocolate sources cacao

Costa Esmeraldas

Esmeraldas, Ecuador

Costa Esmeraldas is a family-owned, single estate farm that is operated entirely by the Salazar family. Located in the Esmeraldas province of Ecuador, a region not traditionally known for fine flavor cacao, the farm has reclaimed land once occupied by cattle pastures. The Salazars have decades of expertise in mineral exploration, environmental remediation, and also operate Fundación Salazar, an independent non-profit that operates with the mission to create lasting benefits from communities nearby resource extraction operations.

What We Pay
$6,500
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of a person carrying cacao at Latitude Trade Company, where Monsoon Chocolate sources cacao

Latitude Trade Co.

Bundibugyo, Uganda

Latitude Trade Company is an Ugandan registered social enterprise owned and managed by Jeff Steinberg. The company purchases wet cacao from over 1000 organic small holder farmers in several communities in the district of Bundibugyo, 52% of whom are women. In the village of Bumate, LTC operates a centralized fermentation facility and warehouse. Not only does the company produce fine flavor cocoa for export, they also manufacture award winning chocolate in Kampala under the brand name Latitude Craft Chocolate.

What We Pay
$6,000
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of Kokoa Kamili's cacao process, where Monsoon Chocolate sources cacao

Kokoa Kamili

Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

Kokoa Kamili was founded by Brian LoBue and Simran Bindra, in the Kilombero Valley of Tanzania. The company operates a central fermentary that works with nearly 3000 small shareholder farms. In an area that has historically received some of the lowest prices for cocoa in the country, Kokoa Kamili is now paying a premium well above market rate to the farmers for wet cacao, and controlling the post-harvest processing themselves. This results in higher compensation and a reduced workload for the farmers, and ultimately produces a more consistent, high quality product.

What We Pay
$7,460
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of Bejofo Estate's cacao

Bejofo Estate

Sambirano Valley, Madagascar

Bejofo Estate is an organic cacao orchard that is part of the larger Akesson Estate in northwest Madagascar’s Sambirano valley. Managed by Bertil Akesson, who has specialized in growing fine cocoa, pepper, and other spices for many years, Bejofo Estate produces 300 tons of cocoa a year. The cocoa has been designated as certified “Heirloom” by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP).

What We Pay
$8,450
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of the Bachelor's Hall Estate farm, with tables of cocoa beans

Bachelor’s Hall Estate

St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica

Bachelor’s Hall Estate is a 1000 acre farm located in St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica and is owned and operated by Desmond Jadusingh, who inherited the farm from his grandfather. The cacao grown here was originally transplanted from Trinidad in the 1800s, and Desmond does a remarkable job of fermenting and drying the cocoa –– resulting in some of the most exquisite and sought after beans in the world.

What We Pay
$10,750
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans
A photo of the Hacienda Tranquilidad farm, where Monsoon Chocolate sources cacao

Hacienda Tranquilidad

Itenez, Bolivia

Hacienda Tranquilidad, a farm producing both wildcrafted and single-estate cacao, is located on 1,500 acres deep in the Bolivian Amazon Basin. Volker Lehmann, the estate's owner, was the first person in the modern age to commercialize the endemic Beniano cacao variety. The massive wild or "Silvestre" cocoa trees grow in an 850-acre natural forest, where they are left alone each year until harvest. These tiny beans have been designated as certified “Heirloom” by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP).

What We Pay
$9,500
World Commodity Price
$2,520
Per metric ton of cocoa beans

Our Process

We craft chocolate in small batches at our factory in the historic Santa Rita Park neighborhood of Tucson, Arizona, using cocoa beans from all over the world. The process of making fine flavor chocolate starts long before the cocoa beans reach our factory.

On the Farm

  • 01

    Grow

    An illustration of the Theobroma Cacao growing

    Theobroma Cacao grows between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

  • 02

    Grow

    An illustration of tiny flowers that grow into cacao seed pods

    Tiny flowers develop into seed pods that grow from the limbs and trunks of the trees.

  • 03

    Harvest

    An illustration of a person harvesting a cacao seed pod from the tree

    Seed pods are selected by hand at peak ripeness, cut from the tree, and collected.

  • 04

    Harvest

    An illustration of a cacao seed pod cracked open

    Pods are cracked open and the inner fruit and seeds are removed.

  • 05

    Ferment

    An illustration of a box of cacao seeds undergoing a fermenting process

    Wooden boxes are filled with the wet cacao seeds and are covered with banana leaves or burlap, where they will go through a process of fermentation for about 3-8 days.

  • 06

    Dry

    An illustration of cacao seeds spread out on raised beds to dry in the sun

    Boxes are emptied and the seeds are spread out on raised beds to dry in the sun for about 5-7 days. After drying, the seeds – now referred to as cocoa beans – are ready to be bagged and exported.

  • FYI

    Fermentation and drying are some of the most important steps in flavor development

  • 07

    Transport

    An illustration of bags of cacao

    Bags of cocoa are loaded into shipping containers which are transported on large boats that travel to ports all over the world.

In Our Factory

  • 01

    Sort

    An illustration of hand sorting cocoa beans

    Once the cocoa beans arrive in our factory, the very first thing we do is hand sort them, removing debris and beans that do not meet our standards.

  • 02

    Roast

    An illustration of Monsoon Chocolate's pink cocoa roasting machine

    We develop specific roast profiles that enhance the natural flavors in each cocoa bean origin.

  • FYI

    Aside from fermentation and drying, the best opportunity to influence flavor is in roasting

  • 03

    Winnow

    An illustration of a cocoa bean with part of its husk removed

    Cocoa beans have a paperlike husk surrounding the nib that needs to be removed after roasting

  • 04

    Winnow

    An illustration of Monsoon Chocolate's winnowing machine

    Beans are crushed and the mixture of husk and nib is separated through a combination of gravity and vacuum force.

  • 05

    Refine

    An illustration of Monsoon Chocolate's melanger machine

    Cocoa nibs are stone-ground along with sugar (and milk powder, if we are making milk chocolate) over the course of 72–96 hours in a machine called a melanger.

  • 06

    Conch

    An illustration of Monsoon Chocolate's agitation and aeration machine

    The liquid chocolate is agitated and aerated, improving mouthfeel and flavor

  • 07

    Sieve

    An illustration of a Monsoon Chocolate chocolate maker pouring liquid chocolate into a large metal container

    The finished chocolate is poured out into large metal containers and allowed to cool.

  • 08

    Age

    An illustration of blocks of chocolate aging

    Solid blocks of chocolate are aged for a minimum of 30 days in cellar conditions.

  • 09

    Temper

    An illustration of a Monsoon Chocolate employee heating and cooling chocolate to temper it

    Solid blocks of chocolate are melted and taken through a process of heating and cooling known as tempering. Chocolate is deposited into polycarbonate molds.

  • 10

    Mold

    An illustration of chocolate being put in molds on a cooling rack

    Chocolate is deposited into polycarbonate molds which are placed onto a cooling rack to crystallize for and hour or so.

  • 11

    Package

    An illustration of chocolate bars being turned out of their molds

    Finished chocolate bars are turned out of their molds and packaged by hand.