Hello, my fellow chocolate lovers,
I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.
Starting from today, I would like to share about the Ecuador trip I had the chance to go the other day. I would like to make these posts like my travel journal, so excuse my broken English!
We drove to the field through clear rural landscape. The brightness of the paddy field gave me nostalgia,reminding me of my hometown. Looking at the numbers of paddy fields reassured me that their staple food was rice. They really are blessed with fertile land that is rich in water. After that, to the sugarcane field. The warm breeze we felt through its Asia-like scenery felt very nice. Man, there sure were a lot of random checkpoints though. The officers even went through all the belongings! That is South America for you. As soon as we entered the countryside, we saw a lady driving her motorbike with three other children on the seat (I begged her internally to just not get into any accidents). May be we will see that place into a developed city in a few decades or so? The school there has 6 years education plan in elementary and another 6 years in secondary. Although in the countryside, it is rather rare for people to continue their education after completing their elementary’s.
After driving past all those, we were at the field. The gate had security guards by it. Talk about a tight security!
We were welcomed by a monument of cacao and realized the building was designed just like the packaging of their very own brand of chocolate. We were totally excited! We greeted the family of the owner and enjoyed the drink they served us. The drink was cacao juice that was made from cacao pulps. That cold drink was just pure deliciousness! Its after taste was like a mixture of lychee and passion fruit. You can only enjoy this fresh drink at the spot. After savouring the drink, off we went to see the actual cacao.
We went around the field by car. We’ve went through many fields in Southern Asian countries, Guatemala, and Belize, but it was completely different. What is so different? THE LEVEL IS. They had proper ridges, and installed irrigation system including sprinklers. Now, this is what we call “farming”!! We couldn’t have gone around the entire field without a car. The field was 400Ha just by itself!
What surprised us was the installed bee house on the field. According to them, they keep them in order to help the pollination of cacao… This meant that they have honey made from cacao flowers, right? I really must try it one day.
Then, to their cacao processing workshop. Harvesting doesn’t exactly mean the end when it comes to cacao. The real game starts after the harvest. Generally, you ferment the cacao and dry them, but this farm didn’t take fermentation so simply. They post-harvest the cacao before fermenting them. Specifically, after they harvest the cacao, they get rid of some of the pulp using cacao’s own weight, dry them for a bit, and then ferment them. It was surprising. We’ve never heard or seen such thing. However, the more I thought about it, the more logical it was. The type of cacao they farmed was CCN51, which is known for its insane sourness. When it comes to fermenting cacao, the more sugar content you start with,the more lactic acid and acetic acid will remain, resulting as sourness. So they chose to cut down the sugar content right off the start…That was clever, no wonder the quality of taste got so much better.
CCN51 is known for its large harvest and resistance to diseases. Now, they improved both its processing method and its quality. It really was an interesting and meaningful experience to feel the shift in the flow of cacaos around the world at its very location.
Let’s call it a day now. I am hoping to see you all on our next post.
With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,