Hello my fellow chocolate lovers,
I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.
From now on I would like to talk about the Ecuador trip I had the chance to take the other day. I want to make these posts like my travel journal, so excuse my broken English!
We’ve savoured the iguana watching and got to our work.
Talk about the humidity there! I didn’t know that hydrated notebooks were a thing…
We had two places to visit that day. A cacao association and a cacao farm.
The association we visited is called ANECACAO. Association National Exporter Cacao, they are an organization that is promoting exportation of Ecuador’s cacao.
A portly gentleman named Julio guided us through.
In that meeting, we discussed the history and actuality of cacao’s produce.
What surprised us the most was that Ecuador is now the world’s third largest producer of cacao beans. Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia were unravelling top 3 producers, but now Ecuador is making its way up all the way to number three on the list.
The backstory to this shift is this:
A native cacao specie of Ecuador, called Nacional, was weak to diseases. In the 1920s, the major damage caused to cacao by diseases drove many farmers to quit farming cacaos.
Later on, a person named Hameo Castro crossbred ICS60, a cacao native to Trinidad and Tobago, and IMC67, a cacao native to Amazon, and was successful in creating a breed named CCN.
Then he screened down the breed that had the highest resistance to diseases and largest amount of produce. This is the breed we call CCN51 today.
Until recently, CCN51 was known for its insane sourness, leaving nothing but a horrible impression. In fact, the company we worked in Japan had a poster to promote the use of Nacional instead of CCN51.
However, recently CCN51’s quality has been remarkably improving due to the refined fermenting method as I mentioned the other day.
Last but not least. the amount of yield of CCN51 is on another level. The amount of yield is double the amount to that of Nacional’s. Currently, the number of CCN51’s yields are increasing by 10% on an annual average.
It is also thanks to the amount of yields that Ecuador is making its way up to number 3 on the list.
Additionally, the breed from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has a strong bitterness, which makes them unsuitable for single bean’s (bean to bar) dark chocolate. Nacional and CCN51, on the other hand, has well balanced flavours ,including the bitterness, which makes these breeds very fitting for the use of bean to bar chocolate. Considering the number they are able to produce such fine quality cacao beans, it is very likely for the breeds to be created and the lineup of top producing countries will drastically change in the future.
Although, Nacional is the native to breed of Ecuador. Also considering that CCN51 is a manmade breed, it divides those who will stick to Nacional ,the native breed, and those who prioritize the number of yield and side with CCN51 among the cacao farmers.
In reality, more than 70% of farmers produce CCN51 opposed to Nacional which is lower than 30%.
It is understandable for the farmers to choose CCN51 over Nacional knowing they are the ones to cultivate cacao.
The price and marketing issue, protecting native plants, and including employment issues, it really is a difficult topic.
There are personal preferences, but I personally think both breeds has its own charm in taste so it’s really up to our customers to decide in the end.
It seemed like we weren’t getting anywhere with this topic, so off we went to the next farm!
Let’s call it a day now. See you all on our next post.
With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,