Tree-to-Bar Chocolate in South Florida

In his small suburban Miami shop, artisan Ricardo “Cao” Trillos handcrafts chocolate bars using cacao beans from fair-trade certified plantations in the Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Costa Rica,

countries within 10 degrees south and 10 degrees north of the equator. Within this band are the countries that provide the best growing conditions for the cacao trees – hot temperatures, abundant rainfall, high humidity – in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia and Hawai’i.


Now, Trillos is making chocolate from cacao beans he harvests from a lush, tropical grove 15 miles southwest of his shop in the part of South Florida called the Redland. The latitude is 25 degrees, but in recent years, the hot, steamy conditions have been ideal for growing cacao and turning it into chocolate bars – a first in the continental United States. 

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Visit Cao Chocolates’ monthly chocolate tours and tastings at Patch of Heaven Gardens ( Find out more: