Ecuador is not typically known for its vanilla, but it is a native species to the region and grows wild throughout the jungle of Ecuador. There are some cacao farmers who grow both cacao and vanilla interspersed on their fincas (small farms). Vanilla is grown on vines with beautiful orchids.
Similar to our stories of finding cacao, finding vanilla was its own adventure, stumbling our way from farm to farm until we found farmers that grew high-quality vanilla.
It is hard to imagine a crop that requires more care and attention than cacao, but vanilla has its own set of unique care requirements. Farmers have to hand pollinate the flower which must be done at night during the few hours that the orchid flower of the vanilla is open.
Mindo, Ecuador has its own history of vanilla. About 25 years ago a Belgian visitor brought the finest Tahitian vanilla to Ecuador and after careful research chose Mindo as the place to propagate the plant. He could never get it to produce, discouraged he gave his plants to an agronomist who took them and planted them just outside of Mindo. The agronomist started a farm but still could not get them to produce. He hired a local woman who began the rigorous process of hand pollination and she was the first to get the vanilla to grow.
Today these farms outside of Mindo are producing some of the highest quality vanilla in the world, located nearby to the cacao farms we work with, these farms are all located in the spectacular cloud forest.
Our vanilla rustic bars are inspired by this story and combine two of the best flavors, chocolate, and vanilla, so you truly get the best of both worlds.