Ishan Tigunait and Jeff Abella of Moka Origins from Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Posted by Coleen L on November 12, 2019. 1 Comment
Ishan Tigunait and Jeff Abella, the chocolate maker, moved to Cameroon Africa in 2007, to lead sustainable farming and community development projects for a not-for-profit organization. Upon invitation by local communities, they ended up expanding these projects into other countries throughout Africa, India, and Central Mexico. They later partnered up in 2015 to launch Moka Origins farm in Cameroon where they work with farmers to grow cacao, harvest beans, and exchange knowledge. Nestled deep in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, their cacao, plantain, and tropical tree farm is a paradise on earth. This particular region is cut off from running water, electricity and paved roads, so they had to build everything from the ground up—literally! They began by creating infrastructure essential for farm operations such as solar electric system, tree nursery, well, river irrigation system, and an internal road network. Since their arrival, they have built a network of libraries and health clinics in cacao communities.
As a social enterprise, Jeff and Ishan are out to make amazing chocolate as well as positively impact farming communities. In addition to Moka Origins farm, they also proudly purchase cacao beans from partners who source throughout Africa, and take pride in highlighting ethically traded African cacao.
By 2017 they opened the doors in Honesdale PA, to Moka Origins bean-to-bar chocolate factory which sits on the campus of a not-for-profit Yoga Ashram where Jeff and Ishan live. At their factory in the Poconos, they roast, winnow, and refine these beans to craft extraordinary chocolate from scratch.
"My family and I moved to Cameroon in 2007 and have since built a network of libraries and health clinics in cacao communities, for a not-for-profit. We never originally intended to make chocolate or buy beans. We then started a community farming project in 2015 to create job and teach post harvest processing. My family and I started making test batches right off of the farm. We studied other US chocolate makers to figure out the process." says Jeff.