Posted in Kafevend Blog
Here at the Kafevend blog, we thought we'd return to have a look at another country's cocoa following our look at the Philippines
a few weeks back. Today then we will look at cocoa's history in Ecuador, and the role it continues to play there to this day.
A potted history
Cocoa has a longer history in Ecuador than you might think. Archeological finds have revealed trace amounts of cocoa in ceramic vessels dating back a staggering 5,000 years- but it wasn't until around 500 years ago that cocoa became a big driving force in Ecuador. First under the colonial rule of the Spanish and later as an independent country, there was a push to grow cocoa as a cash crop. In the 19th century, the industry expanded massively compared to its humble beginnings, and by the second half of the century production had tripled compared to a few decades before, leaving Ecuador as the dominant cocoa exporter- for a time.
New colonies devoted to producing cocoa saw Ecuador's role as the world's top cocoa country begin to slip. A move to other crops such as coffee also detracted from the industry. Finally, a blight amongst the cocoa trees in the country in the early decades of the 20th century could have spelt the end for it, but the government stepped in to support replanting trees, which helped to keep the industry ticking over.
In a way, the diminishment of Ecuador's cocoa industry at the turn of the 20th century put it in good stead for the modern day. As new demand came in, not only could the focus be put on building the industry back up in a sustainable way, but also the training and education provided to farmers would be meeting new generations. This means that the drive to produce quality cocoa has been that bit easier, and as the demand for high quality, artisanal style chocolate is on the rise, it puts Ecuador and its cocoa farmers in a good spot for the near future. Although currently less than 10% of the cocoa produced worldwide is considered fine or flavour cocoa, Ecuador produces around 70% of this; also, last year Ecuador was the 7th largest producer of cocoa- certainly the signs of a country looking to bask in the cocoa limelight once more!
It's easy to get your hands on some Ecuadorian cocoa if you'd like to give it a go(go). One of the most well known brands that uses Ecuadorian beans is Pacari
. They have won numerous awards for their bars, but the one in particular to try is their Raw 70% dark chocolate bar. Unadulterated, it will give you a window onto the unique flavours found in Ecuadorian cocoa beans. Pacari's policies on promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly farming, along with paying a proper price, also means that you needn't feel quite as guilty eating that chocolate!
References:Ecuadorian cocoa history