Tastes of the Tropics: Tree-to-Bar Chocolate in South Florida
In his small suburban Miami shop, artisan Ricardo “Cao” Trillos handcrafts chocolate bars using cacao beans from fair-trade certified plantations in the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, and Costa Rica, countries within 10 degrees south and 10 degrees north of the equator. Within this band are the places that provide the best growing conditions for the cacao trees – hot temperatures, abundant rainfall, high humidity – in the Caribbean, Central and South America, central Africa, Indonesia, and Hawai’i.
Now, Trillos is making chocolate from cacao beans he harvests from a lush, tropical grove 15 miles southwest of his shop in the part of South Florida called the Redland. The latitude is 25 degrees, but in recent years, the hot, steamy conditions have been ideal for growing cacao and turning it into chocolate bars – a first in the continental United States.
Listen as Gretchen Schmidt of edible South Florida interviews Trillos about Cao Chocolates.