Travel to Ecuador #9
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 visited Hacienda Victoria that day.
It was about an hour and a half drive through the mountain from Guayaquil. Although it was a mountain road, the road was paved and we had a pleasant drive. Not to say that we all knew the last 2,3 km of the road was just completely unpaved and bare…
We arrived at the farm, and it was huge. Just…Unbelievably huge. So this is what my professor meant by “commercial agriculture” decades ago. When we looked down from a hill, there were cacao trees as far as I can see. It was a splendid view.
The two owners, Andres in his 40s and Francisco in his 60s, took us on a tour of the farm. It turned out that Andres visited Japan multiple times in the past. Apparently, he was a professional tennis player and played against Shuzo Matsuoka by Lake Kawaguchi. He started the cacao farm about 10 years ago, and is currently expanding his field.
Their farm specializes in Nacional cacao. In other words, they only grow Nacional. It’s not that they are directly criticizing CCN51, but it seems like they do have something against it.
Andres had the vibe of a business man in a city. The vibe of the guy who could be successful anywhere.
The process they are taking in order to protect Nacional is very thorough.
In order to grow a cacao tree, you generally pick out a fresh cacao seed from the pod, germinate them, and let them grow.
Andres, opposed to that, grafts a young branch of Nacional to this young tree, so that only the gene of Nacional will remain.
It does make sense though. Even if a cacao is produced from the tree of Nacional, that cacao will be a fruit of a pistil of Nacional and a stamen of some others’. There will be no guarantee that these “others’” is Nacional. So, when they are growing a tree, they graft a young branch of Nacional in order to protect the gene of Nacional 100%.
Indeed, they will not be able to protect their native kind if they don’t make the process thorough.
They grow these Nacionals in a field with a proper irrigation system.
Just like the farm we went to the other day, they do not have shade trees. They stated that “if you’re taking proper care of it, you need no shade trees.” I wondered if that was really the case, but their cacaos seemed to be growing just fine.
The cacaos were cracked as soon as they were harvested at the field, and the beans and pulp were carried out to process.
They were put in a wooden box, fermented for a few days, and sun dried.
I’d rather say it was a very traditional method.
The method for fermentation and the drying process are flexible upon a custom order.
How the technology has advanced to that point left me in pure amazement.
After taking a bunch of photos and discussing about their cacao’s quality, we started heading home.
Both the CCN51’s and Nacional’s farms we went in Guayaquil were representatives for Ecuador’s cacao farms.Both were very unique and we learned a lot from them.
All thanks to Monica who coordinated this wonderful trip for us.
We were supposed to be in Quito, Ecuador by night, so we headed back to Guayaquil.
We left a bit early, but the traffic was pretty bad. We barely made it in time for our flight
The airport was very clean. The “made in Ecuador” chocolate bar was $9 a bar…That’s airport price for you.
Our plane was Airbus and it still felt weird… As soon as it took off, we had this splendid view below us. Thanks to all of you in Guayaquil.
Our next destination is Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A city located at an altitude of 2850m.
We arrived in about 40 minutes. We didn’t even have the time to doze off.
The view of Quito from the plane surprised us quite a bit. It was a huge city. On top of that, they had street lights in the mountain. Something you wouldn’t see in Canada for sure. In Canada, the cars just drive off the streets without lights.
We arrived at Quito. When we got outside…It was pretty cold. It was about the temperature we’ll get in Canada around March
From that day on, we were going to stay at Monica’s,our coordinator, house instead of a hotel. We chartered a car, and drove to Moica’s house. The roads were clean and looked easy to drive on. It almost gave us the illusion that Ecuador was a well off country.
Our driver Jose was a guy with a charming smile in his 20s. He was in charge of us shenanigans for the next few days.
We arrived at Monica’s house around midnight. There were a bunch of Chinese arts, like those huge vases, for some reason. We stayed in one of the two bedrooms, and she was also going to take care of us shenanigans for the next few days.
That night, we drank some tea, ate some sweets, prepared for the next day, and went to bathe.
The shower was a bit weak, but I guess that was one of the charms of South America.
Our plan for the next day was to visit the farm near Amazon. I just couldn’t wait to see the difference from the previous two farms!
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,