Our Chocolate Experience at El Jardín Farm

Wilfred Ian Benite
May 17, 2024

We visited El Jardin, a cherished family-run farm with a history spanning over a century. As we attend medical conferences and visit clients in the US each year, we make it a point to bring along some of the best local chocolates. We’re always on the lookout for unique and flavorful batches. Sometimes, that means a scenic 55-mile drive to a small cacao farm just north of Iloilo City.

Roots in Rich Soil

"El Jardin," meaning "The Garden," was originally a sugar plantation founded in 1898. During its heyday, Iloilo, where the farm is located, was a hub in the sugar trade, exporting to Spain and Portugal.

With its rich history deeply rooted in chocolate, Dulce Posadas Blas, a fourth-generation owner, shares her story of passion, perseverance, and the revival of their cacao production.

Dulce's childhood memories are filled with images of mornings that began with thick, rich tsokolate (native Filipino thick hot chocolate drink) made from cocoa tablea (roasted, ground cacao beans molded into round tablets), a far cry from the instant mixes prevalent today. This tradition of serving hot chocolate to their workers before a day's work reflects the deep connection the Posadas family has with their land and its produce.

Challenges and a Renewed Passion

The rise of instant coffees and chocolates threatened the farm's cacao and coffee production. Yet, seeing the value in their high-quality beans, Dulce's family remained steadfast. They began revitalizing their cacao production in 2012, attending seminars and consulting with experts.

Unfortunately, Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 caused significant setbacks. Undeterred, the family replanted their crops, this time integrating intercropping with coconut trees for added protection.  By 2016, with support from a local agricultural government organization, they had made a successful recovery.

The Secret to Single-Estate, Natural Chocolate

El Jardin's chocolate is distinct for its commitment to natural processes. They avoid preservatives, opting to manually roast and then grind the cocoa beans themselves. This method retains the cocoa butter, contributing to a richer, thicker chocolate flavor compared to commercially produced alternatives.

The farm's unique advantage lies in its single-estate status. The chocolate derives its character from the specific soil conditions of El Jardin, ensuring a consistent, high-quality flavor.

A Family-Driven Enterprise

El Jardin's chocolate production is a true family effort. Dulce's husband manages the farm's production aspects, while she takes care of roasting, packaging, and with the help of their children, the all-important task of sales.

Vision for the Future

El Jardin's narrative is one of resilience and a dedication to preserving tradition. As Dulce looks ahead, her plans include opening a small factory to support their growing production and eventually making their chocolate available in groceries.

El Jardin's chocolates aren’t just treats—they’re a tale of passion, hard work, and the pursuit of crafting something exceptional from their heritage.


Wilfred Ian Benite grew up in an English-speaking community. His upbringing and early exposure to historical literature shaped him into an accomplished writer.When he writes, his goal is to make the audience understand and believe the story in his words. He currently works as a content writer for Xillium, creating diverse content across multiple platforms.