Our Origin Story
Émilie was working for a non-profit in the Bolivian Amazon featuring a family that had reforested the clear-cut jungle with a diverse selection of food producing trees. Amongst this food forest, Émilie and Scott encountered their first cacao trees, picked fruit from the stalks, and ate their first raw cacao beans. The next day, Scott planted cacao seedlings in service to the reforestation work.
Scott and Émilie traveled to Colombia where they met with an old friend and master of cacao ethnobotany, Esteban Yepes, a global speaker and educator on the history and significance of cacao. Upon their departure from Colombia, Esteban gifted Scott and Émilie with an old-school manual cacao grinder, aptly termed ‘crankenstein.’ With this gift, Esteban told Scott and Émilie, “I want to see you guys do something with this!”
They returned to Nicaragua where they had spent time before and fallen in love with the landscape and the people. Scott began researching local sources of cacao and, to his amazement, learned that unique heirloom cacao grew in the northern region of Matagalpa.
Scott and Émilie were spending a weekend in San Juan del Sur where Émilie had a strong and urgent craving for chocolate. The best thing on the shelves was a generic candy bar. They sat on the side of the road in front of Casa Oro, frustrated by the non-existence of high-quality chocolate in a country that grows high-quality cacao.
Frustration sparked inspiration, they invested the remainder of their savings and got to work.
Outfitted with the “crankenstein” and a small grinder purchased by a friend in exchange for chocolate; the first bars were made with these generous tools on Ometepe Island. Émilie hand wrapped every single bar in craft paper and sales started at the Ometepe Farmer’s market where people from all over the planet tried the meticulously made chocolate. The first reaction was consistently, “WOW…” The gluten-free brownies sold out every market and there was a back-order of chocolate bars from local businesses. It was a sign to keep going.
This led to meeting with Muffa at the San Juan del Sur Farmer’s Market who was looking for fresh turmeric; Scott’s ears perked up because he knew where to get some on Ometepe. The two of them started chatting and soon realized that Scott was staying at Casa Oro, one of Muffa’s hospitality ventures and that they shared a network mutual friends working with the cultivation of cacao and food-producing plants in Nicaragua.
Muffa heard the story about the farmers; the reforestation; the wild heirloom cacao trees; about how a business served as a tool for regeneration; and was elated. Muffa had spent the previous seven years studying and building a family of for-purpose businesses dedicated to regeneration and sustainable development. He thinks businesses have a responsibility to leave places, people, and economies better. Muffa bought a chocolate bar and had that oh so common reaction, “WOW…”
In an inexplicable series of fortunate events, serendipity, and vulnerable moments; Muffa, Scott, and Émilie became business partners.
Oro Chocolate was born.