The Discovery of Marañón Cacao

In 2009, the chocolate world was rocked by the announcement that a rare strain of cacao had been found growing in a remote part of Peru. It wasn’t just that that particular variety--100% pure Naçional—was thought to be extinct.
The newfound trees were growing at a much higher altitude than was believed to support cacao cultivation. What’s so special about the Naçional bean, you ask? It’s an heirloom sub-type of Forastero (the family of cacao used primarily by industrial producers) that has evolved over the centuries into something truly yummy. Originally found only in Ecuador, pure Naçional was pretty much completely replaced by a modern clone selected for its disease resistance, not its flavor. Yet, tucked into a hidden mountain valley along the Marañón River in northern Peru was a stand of perfectly pure Naçional trees. Since their discovery, very few beans have been available, and only to a handful of artisan chocolatiers. We consider ourselves lucky to have two offerings on our Wall of Bars: Ritual Chocolate (Park City, UT) and Soma Chocolatemakers (Toronto, Canada). Come in and pick up one of these special bars and savor the unique flavor of Marañón cacao: intense, persistent and floral without any bitterness.

January 12, 2016

Posted in Bean-to-Bar; Education; In the News;

Why Bean-to-Bar Matters

There’s been much in the media these days about bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Is the whole movement an over-priced scam or the savior of an industry? From our perspective, the blossoming of bean-to-bar artisans over the last 15 years has been both an exciting and essential catalyst in a category that was, at best, insipid.

Think back to the days when the domestic industry was a virtual duopoly and chocolate was a one-dimensional flavor with no perceptible differentiation. The growth of bean-to-bar makers has given birth to an incredible diversity of styles and taste, shifting the emphasis from “bulk beans” and efficient processing to “fine flavor” beans crafted with care. In the new model, sourcing exceptional cacao becomes a mantra. And, it’s this focus on sourcing that has important inherent benefits stretching well beyond our palates.

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