Castronovo crafts its chocolate in Stuart, Florida, from fine flavour cacao that is sustainably harvested and grown in Central and South America.
Massachusetts-born Denise Castronovo is the leading lady behind Castronovo chocolate. But for Denise, chocolate wasn’t always on the cards. Denise studied environmental studies at college, attained a masters in economics and went on to start her PhD in ecology at the University of Georgia. Denise didn’t finish this, but instead wanted to enter the workforce with the skills she had learnt whilst studying and became a professor. Whilst spending 15 years in the field of mapping technology and spatial analysis, part of which included returning to Boston and running the Geographic Information Center at Tufts University, it was the harsh winters of Boston that pushed Denise and her husband to somewhere warm. Florida.
Along the foothills of the Maya Mountains in southern Belize, indigenous Mayans were one of the first to commercialize cacao and the tradition continues today thanks to Uncommon Cacao. Uncommon founded Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) in 2010 as their first origin project, and this is the first specialty grade, high quality, fine flavor cacao to come out of Belize.
MMC sources from smallholder farmers in Southern Belize and centralizes the post-harvest processing, marketing, and export. The idea behind this new approach– Centralized fermentation and drying, and buying wet cacao rather than dry cacao from farming families across the country — was not only to improve quality, but also to create higher prices and better value for farmers. This new model creates completely transparent business transactions and a true direct farm-to-consumer story for any chocolate manufacturer sourcing from Maya Mountain Cacao.
Maya Mountain Cacao sources cacao from approximately 400 smallholder farming families and ferments and dries all cacao at a central processing facility, built in 2016. For farmers, this model provides market stability, convenience, and focused attention on growing yields, while ensuring a fair and stable price for their product.
Tropical fruits at first, with some nuttiness emerging as the bar melts and aromas are released.