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Organic chocolate production in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 7, 2016

Ecuador’s organic cocoa, or “cacao” production plays a significant role in the country’s history and economy.

The cacao beans produced in Ecuador are famous throughout the globe for its unique, fine aroma. There’s even a separate category in the cocoa industry for “Arriba cocoa,” the beans grown only in Ecuador.

History of cacao in Ecuador

The true origin of cacao is largely unknown; however, a recent archaeological study provided evidence that Ecuador may have been the original home of the cacao tree.

An archaeologist named Francisco Valdez unearthed ceramic pottery dating back to 3,300 BC that contained microscopic traces of cacao, suggesting the beans were cultivated and consumed in the area more than 5,000 years ago.

Many believe Ecuador was largely responsible for introducing chocolate to the West – while gold and silver were taken from most Spanish colonies in South America, Ecuador was exploited for its abundant supply of cacao.

Exporting cacao

Ecuador produces only 4% of the entire world’s cacao, however, the country is the largest producer of fine aroma cacao, providing over 70% of the world’s supply. Given the fact that cacao is a huge part of Ecuador’s history, it comes as no surprise that it was declared “Product Symbol of Ecuador” in 2005 by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Though Ecuador produces some of the best cacao in the world, due to the limited processing capacity, a significant percent of the cacao beans are exported as raw material overseas (mostly in Europe). The beans are then processed in chocolate factories, and later on sold at gourmet chocolate shops throughout the world.

There are various types of cacao cultivated in Ecuador, but the most sought-after variety is known as “Nacional,” a type with distinctive aromas and the highest quality of grains.

The cacao beans’ fine aroma and superior quality makes it ideal for producing gourmet dark chocolate or vegan chocolate, as milk products are no longer required to balance the rich taste.