Based on new genomic research and evidence, published recently in Nature ecology & evolution from the researcher Sonia Zarillo et al., the Theobroma cacao’s diversity lies in the upper Amazon region of northwest South America, pointing to this region as its centre of origin.
Based on three independent lines of archaeological evidence—cacao starch grains, absorbed theobromine residues and ancient DNA—dating from approximately 5,300 years ago recovered from the Santa Ana-La Florida (SALF) site in southeast Ecuador are the oldest centre of domestication of cacao in the world, starting in Ecuador for 5,300 years, the T. cacao was used in Ecuador by 5,450–5,300 cal. yr, predating its earliest known use in Central America and Mexico by approximately 1.5 millennia, before the Cacao domestication moved to the Olmecs, as recently published in the book: The True History of Chocolate the researcher Coe claimed, Cacao, originated with the Olmec. They proposed that cacao, originally pronounced “kakawa,” was a vocabulary term used by the ancient Olmec as early as 1000 BCE. Based on linguistic evidence, the authors suggested that the Olmec could have been the first to domesticate the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao L., and discovered the chocolate-making process.
We produce from Bean-to-Bar. Our ultra premium fine flavor beans are from South and Mesoamerica. We have national arriba beans from Ecuador and from the Costa Esmeralda coast.
From Peru we have different single origins: from the amazon basin we have Ucayali River cacao, from the north part the so-called Gran Chililique and Grand Nativo White, Maranon.
From Venezuela we have three origins: from the north part called Zucre the porcelana beans, and from Aragua the Chuao beans and from Sucre the Carupano Pintao beans. From the so-called Tranquilidad the Wild Beniano Cacao from Bolivia. From mesoamerica we have cocoa beans from the coast of Honduras La Masica.
Fine cacao versus bulk cacao
The world cacao market distinguishes between two broad categories of cacao beans: “fine or flavour” cacao beans, and “bulk” or “ordinary” cacao beans. As a general concept, fine or flavour cacao beans are produced from Criollo or Trinitario cacao-tree varieties, while bulk cacao beans come from Forastero trees. There are, however, known exceptions to this generalization. Nacional trees in Ecuador, considered to be Forastero-type trees, produce fine or flavour cacao. On the other hand, Cameroonian cacao beans are produced from Trinitario-type trees and their cacao powder has a distinct and sought-after red colour. However, these beans are classified as bulk cacao beans.” (source: ICC)
FCCI 2016, Fine cacao versus bulk cacao Today: 93-95% of all cacao is classified as bulk cacao 5-7% of all cacao is classified as fine cacao. In the early 1900s, the split was 50-50. Quality standards can be objectively set based on market expectations and global standards that meet the basic requirements for acceptability. Excellence is a subjective term relative to the individual product. Excellence may be defined in the case of cacao as the lack of defects, a raw material that fulfills the potential of its genetics. A defect may be defined in this case as anything that detracts from reaching the best expression of the particular cacao’s genetic potential. Emerging understanding of cacao genetic strains and morphology.
Primary cacao strains (so far):
Amazon (Upper Amazon region), Amelonado (Lower Amazon region), Beniano (Rio Beni region, Bolivia), Contamana (Upper Amazon region, Criollo (e.g. Porcelana, Guasare, Theobroma Pentagona; also cacao varieties from regions of Choroni, Chuao, Ocumare, and Cuyagua), Curaray (Amazon basin), Guiana (French Guiana), Iquitos (Peru), Marañón (Peru), Nacional (e.g. Arriba of Ecuador), Nanay (northern Peru).