Last October 31, 2019,  Auro Chocolate and Jose Saguban made history for the Philippines as they won the first ever Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Award during the prestigious International Cocoa Awards (ICA) held in Salon du Chocolat Paris by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme (CoEx).

30 Oct 30 2019 ICA Awarding Night - Mang Jose Saguban received the Top 20 Best Cacao Beans Recognition together with the Auro Chocolate Team


ICA is a global competition organised by CoEx, recognizing the work of cocoa farmers and celebrating the diversity of cocoa flavours. For the 2019 Edition, CoEx received 223 samples from 55 cocoa-producing countries which were transformed into liquor and evaluated by the CoEx Technical Committee. among hundreds of samples, Mang Jose Saguban’s cacao beans was chosen as part of the Top 20 awardees. Winners were announced in Paris during Salon du Chocolat  2019 (SDC), the most anticipated and prestigious global event dedicated to celebrating chocolate and cacao. 


Mang Jose together with the Reserve Collection - 70% Dark Chocolate Paquibato


Jose Saguban of Paquibato, Davao is one of Auro Chocolate’s original farming partners. The founders of Auro Chocolate, Jackie and Kelly Go and Mark Ocampo, first met Mang Jose in October 2015, and were impressed by his passion for cacao and leadership in the community. Mang Jose has been growing cacao since the 1970s and believes in planting cacao that he personally enjoys consuming and not just blindly following the advice of others. As a result, he has a lot of older varieties of cacao in his farm. While Auro’s founders saw the fine flavor potential of Mang Jose’s cacao, they also recognized that he needed a lot of training and guidance as he had limited technical expertise and post-harvest facilities. Mang Jose is currently exclusively supplying cacao beans to Auro Chocolate.

Since late 2015, Auro Chocolate has been working with Mang Jose and the Paquibato Tree Developer’s Cooperative (PTDC) on quality and post-harvest protocols that have been developed to maximize flavor. Auro Chocolate Team mentored and helped in preparing the data and samples that Auro Chocolate sponsored for entry into the competition. It was a joint effort with other members of the PTDC using Auro’s post-harvest protocols as a result of our partnership.


We both screamed when Mang Jose’s Top 20 award was announced in front of global cacao industry leaders. It was the culmination of the long journey we have been on with Jose Sagoban of Paquibato Tree Developers Cooperative and all the other farmers who have placed their trust on the Auro Chocolate team since 2015. We are incredibly proud that we got to share the stage with Mang Jose that night, and feel inspired to continue taking the path less traveled to strive towards excellence so we can continue to help more farmers. ” - Kelly Go and Mark Ocampo, Co-Founders of Auro Chocolate


Mang Jose with the iconic Eiffel Tower of France

Upon finding out that Mang Jose’s cacao beans made it to the Top 50, Auro Chocolate decided to fly Mang Jose to Paris to personally receive his recognition. The trip was full of firsts not only for Auro Chocolate but most especially for Mang Jose, from his first time on an airplane to his first sip of red wine. The best surprise of the trip was when he also received the highest accolade of being part of the Top 20 Best Cacao Beans in the World - a first for the Philippines. 

With Mang Jose’s win, Auro Chocolate hopes that it will inspire a new generation of farmers to continue their legacy.  It is Auro Chocolate’s mission to empower farmers like Mang Jose to bring better recognition to more marginalized areas and people in the Philippines and to showcase the fine quality of our cacao on the international stage.