Type: Central Fermentary

Location: Dak Nong Province, Central Highlands, Vietnam

Tasting Notes: Raisin, Marzipan, Cocoa

Varieties: Trinitario

Fermentation Style: Wooden boxes

Drying Style: Above ground bamboo trellis

Elevation: 800 meters

Soil Type: Sandy clay

Harvest Season: December to March and May to July

Butter Fat Content: 56%

DAK NONG PROVINCE is located in the southwest of Vietnam’s Central Highlands. The average altitude is about 800m above sea level and the soil is basaltic. The region is known for the cultivation of coffee, pepper, and rubber.

Meridian has teamed up with Saigon-based Marou Faiseurs De Chocolat to import their hand selected Vietnam cocoa to the United States. Marou was founded in 2011 to support the Vietnamese cacao industry and has been tremendously successful at putting Vietnamese cacao in the international spotlight with their line of bean-to-bar chocolates. Besides crafting award-winningchocolate, Marou works directly with family-owned cocoa farms across Vietnam to bring their fine cocoa to markets. They provide these farms with technical support and financial assistance, purchasing the cocoa well beyond Fair Trade cocoa prices. The cacao that Meridian sources through Marou represents their high standards of quality starting at the farm level.

Marou sources from a variety of regions throughout Vietnam. In each region, they partner with cacao groups of 30-40 members. Each group has a leader who, besides having a farm of 2-3 hectares, also buys wet beans from the others in the group and ferments them in wooden boxes at their farm. Marou has a very hands on approach to quality control; each bag is tested at selection, and farmers received feedback and technical assistance throughout the harvest season.

Cacao arrived in Vietnam in the late 19th century. It remained a small crop until about 15 years ago, when development organizations began encouraging the planting of seedlings in the Mekong Delta region. While this dramatically increased the amount of cacao grown in Vietnam, it still remains a tiny share of Vietnam’s agriculture compared to its massive rice, cashew, and coffee industries.