When it’s time for harvest, Germán Graciano Posso, a 38-year-old Colombian farmer, leaves his village, La Florencita, with a group of co-workers and heads into the hills where the cacao trees grow surrounded by a lush rainforest. Cacao pods the size of giant lemons hang off the trees’ branches: They come in various colors—green, red, and purple—but tend to turn yellow when they ripen. Posso harvests the fruits by hand, cracks them open with a machete, and collects the grape-sized seeds, which are covered in a white, squishy casing. Then he places the seeds in a wooden box where the casing undergoes a process of fermentation. Finally, Posso spreads out the seeds on a flat surface to dry in the sun. After eight days of drying, they will be ready to become chocolate.
This might seem a common agronomic practice, no different from the one conducted by other cacao growers worldwide, yet it carries a greater significance in this northwestern corner of Colombia.