Travel to Ecuador #4
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!
I was awakened by the sound of the car horn right off the bat.The loudness of that reminded me of all the bustle in Asian countries. This was something I’d experience later on, but the road experience there was just horrendous. I just knew that it was impossible for me to drive there. People parked on the street casually, to the point I didn’t even know how many lanes there were, and unless the driver force themselves in, it was impossible to cut through. Yep, just like Asia. There was no way for me to drive there with my chill-Canadian driving skills.
I did get a real quality sleep though. I was dead asleep and managed to wake up with a clear mind. There weren’t any alcohol in our room, so it was my first sleep without a nightcap in 2019. I guess not drinking before your bed really does the trick.
We had our breakfast at the buffet of the hotel and met up with Monica there. Monica was the coordinator of our trip. She was about our age and her occupation was a consultant. She was an intelligent lady who studied at a university in the UK with a friendly smile. Her English was clear and easy to understand, which gave us a good impression of her.
The food in Ecuador was great! First of all, the fruits were so fresh! I ate something that I’ve never seen before, but it was tasty with its strong flavour. The raw bananas were not much different from the ones we eat in Canada, but the cooked ones was great! It was soft and moist like a steamed yam and sweet like a corn,it just left us speechless with its tastiness along with the texture of banana. The fact that their staple food was rice hyped us (they even had curries)! We started our day with a power-boosting breakfast, but the taste of their coffee was kind of a let down…
That day, our plan was to head to “Hacienda San Jose”, which is a cacao farm that grows a type of cacao bean called CCN51.
CCN51 was created by selective breeding, and is known for its large number of crops and its strong resistance to diseases. Just a while back ago, many chocolate manufacturers were avoiding CCN51, since it was also known for its horrible quality in taste. However in the recent years, CCN51 has been improving its flavour keeping the number of crops and its resistance. Our goal of this trip was actually this cacao bean, the CCN51. This cacao bean was what we got, after searching for a breed which we thought was good without being influenced by any preconceptions.
First, we had a meeting with the owner at their office. His name was Jorge (pronounced Hor-Hey). He seemed only a few years older than us in his 50s, but he gave off these dignified vibes. Just how distinguished he was(I don’t think I’d be able to give off that vibe in a 100 years)!. It turns out that he was the fourth-generation! The founder started this farm back in the 1920s, so almost a century back. There was a period where they grew corn and rice due to poor harvest and stuff, but currently they are focusing on farming cacao and banana.
I asked how did they manage to improve the quality of the CCN51 so much, and his answer was that the key was within the fermentation. He also mentioned that they adjust the sourness during the drying process. I really had to see the scene myself after this!
I tried the sample, and just how tasty it was! I couldn’t imagine how happy they were to be able to make such delicious chocolates from cacao beans straight from their field ( and yes, I was slightly jealous).
They all say better seen than heard, so off we drove to their cacao field.
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,