Learn how do we turn cacao fruit into a chocolate bar in the following steps below. Want to try to make your own chocolate bar? Feel free to take our chocolate-making workshops available every day in Chaqchao! More info here.
we ferment cacao beans for around 4 days
the beans have to dry up
we sort the beans
from Cusco, by hand
we roast the been in the low temperature for a long time to get the most flavour out of them
we use winnower to crack the shells and get pur cacao nibs
we add cacao nibs, raw sugar, cocoa butter to the grinder and wait four days for a smooth consistency
we have to alternate the temperature of chocolate in order to get a nice and shiny look
now we can make our own chocolate - add whatever you like, let it cool down and then enjoy it!
The Peruvian Cacao Difference
When the world consumes cacao – in chocolate, cocoa, nibs, and more–more than 70% of that comes from West Africa. In terms of diversity, that’s asking to taste just one or two varieties of grapes, rather than sipping the full spectrum of the world’s wine. Cacao is no different. Depending on the terrain, the climate, and the tree, cacao can be earthy, fruity, acidic, bitter, and floral.
As a Peruvian company, Chaqchao uses cacao grown and roasted exclusively in Peru. What is the Peruvian cacao difference? Notes of cinnamon, dried fruits, floral hints, and more subtleties we don’t even know about yet. In Peru alone, there are more than 60 different varieties of cacao, out of the world’s 100 total varieties. Unlike anywhere in Africa, cacao has been cultivated in the Americas for thousands of years. Moreover, Peru is the world’s second-largest exporter of organic cacao.
What does that mean for the chocolate consumer?
Whether you’re a novice or expert, opt for single-origin bars to taste the cacao difference. Just as you prefer a bottle of wine that isn’t cloaked and disguised in a blend, chocolate should be consumed in that same way, too. As a company that focuses on bean-to-bar chocolate, you should instantly gleam the award of not eating something created from Hershey’s. For specifics, learn more about Peru’s most valued bean below.
Grown near Piura, just four degrees south of the equator, this white cacao bean is one of the most prized in the world. Known as porcelain cacao because of its distinctive pale white color, Piura Blanca is Peru’s most recognized bean because of its high quality and rich flavor. It comes at no surprise that some of the best chocolatiers in the world, professionals such as Pierrick Chouard, Jean Paul Hevin, Philippe Bernachon, and Stéphane Bonnat, use it. Click and learn more about Piura Blanca.
How to truly taste Chocolate
Despite most people’s perception of it, chocolate has more than 400 complex flavor compounds. For context, that’s more than fine wine. And the process begins with the cacao variety, specific soil conditions, and the climate. But that’s just the beginning.
The taste of chocolate is further affected by each step in the chocolate-making process. That is the fermentation, the way it dries, roasting times and temperatures, even the size of the cacao bean. Ultimately, this means that each bar of chocolate–even if you’ve already tried that particular variety–can taste different, especially when the bar comes from small-batch bean-to-bar companies (like Chaqchao).
So, how do you best note the subtleties of fine chocolate?
If you’re a lover of chocolate – and still reading this post –get a glass of water and follow the points below.
You should be in a room where other smells won’t distract you.
Moreover, that water or piece of bread will help you cleanse your taste buds and help you distinguish the inherent subtleties between each brand and type of chocolate (if you’re trying more than one).
Take a whiff. That aroma you experience is a big part of the tasting experience.
The chocolate should appear glossy, not chalky, due to proper tempering (the strategic lowering and raising of temperature to acquire the exact crystals).
Snap the chocolate. By breaking it, you can see if the chocolate, once again, has been tempered well. If not, the break will be soft and crumbly.
Finally, (I know what you’re thinking; I’m that omnipresent narrator), it’s time to taste the chocolate, but make sure you don’t chew it yet. Place a portion on your tongue and let it melt a little. Why? When chocolate melts other flavor notes are revealed.
Like the process of tasting wine, the more practice you have, the more refined your tasting will be. Hints of cinnamon, a smoky smell, jasmine, spice, cherries, or maybe, in fact, you taste vanilla. All of this is possible. Each chocolate bar, as you’ve discovered by now, is unique. Just like your particular idea of the chocolate you’re tasting, it’s unique.
If you’ve selected a good chunk of chocolate, the taste will still be there minutes later. Take it slow; this is no Reese’s Cup, you’re (most likely) a mature, sophisticated adult. Wallow in the sweet pleasures that it brings. And most of all, enjoy it, hopefully, you’re tasting some of the world’s finest chocolate.
Want to learn more? Sign up for one of our bean-to-bar chocolate making workshops! We’ll discuss – in more depth – the history of cacao, the significance of the source, and how to (most importantly) make and taste it.
For more details about our workshops, click here.
The Faces Behind Fair Trade
The mission was simple, the journey, not at all. In the bouncy seats of the tuk tuk, visions of verdant green patches and dry forest outcroppings flashed by. We were just two hours from the city of Piura, but we felt far more removed from bustling commerce. As we snaked through the winding dirt road, we finally reached our destination: award-winning cacao concealed behind a bamboo thatched door. We followed Juan de la Cruz, our guide and a local cacao farmer who beamed a toothy grin as he opened the gate to let us in.
Despite the arid land that rimmed many of the roads, we stood looking up to a green canopy of shade trees. A strategy Juan described as two-fold, primarily to protect the cacao from Peru’s strong sunlight, and secondly to reward the local children (and us) with delicious and sweet fruit.
On the way there, Juan reached into his pocket. The packaged product was the same purpose as to why we had come too. Rich, dark, pure chocolate. A French chocolatier had visited these same cacao fields to see, like us, the complete cycle of the cacao bean to the chocolate bar. From the soil to the tree to the fermentation process to–ultimately–our own chocolate bar.
We were curious how the unique factors affect our product, but also and equally, we wanted to hear the stories behind the men and women who make our cacao. Special thanks to Juan de la Cruz and la Comunidad Campesina Cesar Vallejo Palo Blanco.
What makes cacao from Piura so unique?
Most of the trees are native or criollo, a cacao distinction which represents only 1% of all cacao trees in the world. Unlike the far more ubiquitous forastero cacao, which represents 80% of cacao trees in the world, criollo cacao is complex and aromatic, not strong and bitter. This superior quality is reflected by the high price and demand of criollo from premium chocolatiers around the world. It’s easy to see why it’s the preferred variety for unique chocolate.
Because of its native distinction, Piura Blanco cacao has a smooth aromatic fruity taste that makes chocolate not just good, but gourmet.
Spot on Juan de la Cruz
Name: Juan de La Cruz Ribera de Mar
Finca: La Nicolasa (named after his mother)
Comunidad: Campesina Cesar Vallejo Palo Blanco, Chulucanas
Altitude: 235 Meters above sea level
Arboles: 2,000 native or criollo cacao trees
Years growing cacao: 30
How he learned: from his grandmother who grew cacao as an ailment for local nursing mothers to give them strength
Previous job: a veteran of Peru’s Air Force
The best thing about chocolate: it’s really good; it can be a food or a medicine, plus, it gives you happiness and pleasure.
How does fair trade help you:
increased knowledge and quality of cacao
5 children who were able to attend university
two national prizes for premium cacao
As Juan says, ”It’s completely changed my life. I’ve become known by people from around the world.”