If anyone is interested in visiting the Dominican Republic between May 2nd and the 12 or so, I would be happy to show you, who and what I know about cacao and chocolate in the country. Every trip I learn more and meet new people. Eventually I would like to organize small groups to take a chocolate trip to the DR and this could be sort of a test run. I would not charge anything except some help with gas in the rent a car.
My main contacts there are centered around CONACADO and some of the bloques. I also have some access to people at Munne, Rizek, Roig and Cortes Hermanos. The Sendero de Cacao run by the Rizek's is a must visit. There are also a number of rural based rural women associations who make drinking chocolate and some are getting financing and machines to to some decent processing and other products. These groups are a lot of fun to visit and always right in the middle of different cacao growing regions. I also work closely with the person who manufactures the machines locally. He has recently installed four new, small processing plants and he can't wait to show me.
I always stop by and visit my friends at the Red de Guaconejo, a small well run farmer cooperative. There are many other farmer type associations and cooperatives I have read about and will eventually make contact. It is always a delight to meet Orlando Rodriquez and tour the Insitutito at Mata Larga. I can not say enough about the respect I have for his contribution to improving cacao production in the DR at the small farm level. I spend as much time as I can there during my visits.
Diana Munne runs the best and only chocolate shop in the Capital. I can only really buy decent eating chocolate from Diana and at the Sendero while I am in the country. I have tasted really good liquor at CONACADO.
These are the things I do when I am in the Dominican Republic and would love to share this with others. I used to get around on a motorcycle but have moved up to renting a car. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the country 27 years ago and am married into a cacao growing family 24 years ago. I speak very good Dominican Spanish and know how to safely move around the country. Let me know.
Miguel Hernandez from San Francisco de Macoris. Where are you located.
I'm in Santo Domingo, la capital, however my mentor is from San Francisco, so I'm pretty sure he might know Mr. Hernandez.
Do you know what equipment is Miguel manufacturing?
I have a few picture on lachorena.com. The website needs some new pictures and I am sure he knows Miguel. He does everything except a stone type melanger. He does a roller refiner and than a separate conch.
Hey Thomas - I am currently making test batches of chocolate using Conacado and would love to join you! I live in Los Angeles but will be available to travel with you. Please let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org
I will be available from the 3rd to the 13th of May. Let's talk to make specific arrangements and find out what you want to see. email@example.com