We try to help you better understand the world of cocoa, seen from an agricultural and production point of view. These are some of the questions people ask us. If you have a question, write it in the comments or using our social networks such as Instagram and Facebook =)
What is the origin of COCOA
Cocoa was grown by the Maya in what is now Central America. In particular, they cultivated it in the south of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Its origin is thought to be indigenous to Central America but there are those who claim that it comes from the Amazon. In any case, it is known that the Maya, like the Nahua, Lenca and Aztecs subsequently occupied cocoa as a currency for trade and as a fruit to create energy drinks for warriors and nobles.
Where does our cocoa come from? Is it ethical and sustainable?
Our cocoa comes from our Finca Cuyancùa (Izalco) El Salvador plantation. We also buy cocoa from other plantations always coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica (Central America). Even if there is always one more reason to improve, our cocoa is not the result of slavery, illegal activities and much denigrates the lives of the workers involved. On the contrary, our project would like to give this region a deep breath, paying prices higher than the market ones and giving added value to the entire supply chain.
How many varieties of cocoa are there?
The world of cocoa is very large and still little known in its complexity. The quality of cocoa depends not only on its genetic variety, grafts, local climate, etc., but also on suitable agricultural processes, including a good fermentation and drying process that takes place exclusively on the plantation or in the collection center.
In any case, there are three general varieties:
CRIOLLO (2%), TRINITARIO (8%) and FORASTERO (90%). The criollo, with a very fruity flavor, is characterized by white beans. As it is a variety not very resistant to the attack of soil diseases, parasites and molds, it is difficult to find. The price of the criollo is very high compared to the forastero.
Let's dispel a myth: having a "criollo" cocoa in your hands is very rare, and only a few fine chocolates are made from this variety. You will realize that it is a criollo simply by one fact: the price. If you pay very little for cocoa, cocoa nibs and chocolate, then there may be a "non" truth behind the label.
Trinitario (or cacao fino de aroma), is a hybrid between criollo and forastero. Every origin, every "Finca", and local climate can favor a great aromatic yield of this cocoa. The grains are larger than the forastero, and contain more monounsaturated fatty acids, minerals and antioxidants. This cocoa is the favorite of bean to bar chocolatiers, who love to bring out a thousand aromatic aspects of this fruit.
The forastero is the variety grown mainly in Africa, but also in South America. This cocoa has a low aromatic yield and tastes mainly of cocoa. It is produced in large quantities and its prices are much lower than the criollo and trinitario. However, the quality of cocoa must always be verified from a visual, olfactory and taste point of view.
What is Ceremonial cacao? How do you make it?
Our Ceremonial cocoa is what we consider a real elixir as it is stone ground cocoa beans. It therefore contains all the components of cocoa, and it is possible to dissolve it in hot water or vegetable drink. This compound is not to be confused with "cocoa powder", which is instead an industrial semi-finished product, devoid of cocoa butter.
It recalls the traditions of the Mesoamerican peoples where cocoa was stone-pressed and drunk during rites and ceremonies together with other local spices without adding sugar. This very energetic drink is exploited by the holistic sectors to facilitate meditation and conviviality.
What is meant by Bean to Bar chocolate?
Although there is no legal definition of "artisan" for chocolate, what we mean is: processed from A to Z. That is: we grow, export-import and process the cocoa beans until they are transformed into squares of chocolate to which we only add brown sugar (muscovado, coconut, panela, demerara ..). We do not buy semi-industrial chocolate products to just pour them into the stamps, but we take care of every stage of processing.
Is our cocoa raw?
No, it is not raw and we say it in absolute transparency and serenity. When the cocoa bean has undergone fermentation and drying it has already undergone the first treatments, albeit natural, but has already been exposed to temperatures over 42ºC.
There is still no scientific-legal definition on what the characteristics of raw cocoa should be (including temperatures). There is no third party that establishes the traceability parameters (as is done with ISO, and organic certifications for example), which can also guarantee that the "cocoa has not been exposed to temperatures over 42ºC (current parameter) during the phases For example, fermentation reaches temperatures over 50º C. So everything is based on the good faith of companies, people, who promote their products as "raw" and as healthy more than others, without however offering scientific comparisons and specific analyzes that can actually support these hypotheses, so for the moment they seem to us to be mere marketing choices.
Obviously we invite you to take a tour of some cocoa plantation to understand what we are talking about, how it is worked from the first moment and then make your opinion. Rather, we think it is more important to focus on the "quality of cocoa", of the artisan processes (bean to bar, farm to bar ..), origin, traceability, of the people behind the supply chain, flavor profile, sustainability, history, etc. .
What are cacao nibs?
Cacao nibs are shelled and crushed cocoa beans. They are the raw material for the processing of chocolate as the peel is considered a waste, which would ruin the taste of the chocolate. Chocolate is obtained from the grinding of cacao nibs and subsequent refining and refinement processes, adding other ingredients such as sugar, etc.