Enrique Cerda, a 23 year old master chocolatier from the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, is visiting the Land & Sea Slow Food San Juan Island convivium in northwestern USA this weekend to discuss his cocoa producing community’s successful expansion to chocolate making – a revolutionary development for the global chocolate industry.
Realizing most profit is made from sales of chocolate bars, rather than the cacao beans, indigenous producers in the Napo Province of Ecuador formed the Kallari Association – a cooperative that today unites more than 800 families – to sell their beans as a single unit as well as launching their own chocolate production.
Kallari chocolate quickly become well known for its excellent quality and for the outstanding flavor of the Cacao Nacional de Arriba bean, a variety first developed and cultivated by Mayans in South America. In addition, the community have increased the sustainability of their livelihoods and safeguarded their land and resources from being sold to mineral or forestry companies for short-term gains.
In 2004, these rare beans were singled out for protection by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and the Nacional Cacao Presidium was established to improve the quality of the production. Later that year, the community presented their first chocolate bars at the international Terra Madre meeting, marking the beginning of a more profitable enterprise.
Land & Sea San Juan Island convivium is holding two events this weekend: a practical workshop and ‘From Bean to Bar’ – a presentation of the issues faced by the community in maintaining sustainable agriculture and indigenous rights. A chocolate tasting will follow, featuring single origin bars of various percentages from around the world.
Click here to read more about the Cacaco Nacional Presidium food community