The Chocolate Life

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Love this site. Love the forum. I've amassed a decent collection of texts recommended on this site and other chocolate geeks, but find that I'd like to discover more about cacao.


Specifically, maps. I'm a sucker for cartography and am wondering if there is an Atlas of sorts detailing the cacao growing regions of the world. If such a thing isn't available, what other options are there for me to take a good look at these regions -- their elevations, soil content, etc.? Such things have been easier to source in the wine world, so I'm hoping that such is the case with cacao.


Obviously, it need not be bound in a book. Online references are fine. I am looking to literally visualize these places I have yet to visit each time I taste a bar and associate terroir with appropriate factors.


Thanks in advance.

Tags: books, maps, production

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Nothing like this exists that I have ever seen. Cacao/chocolate is many decades behind wine, but maybe you can start to pull one together over time. Still, I've never seen any real detailed information on terroir in different cacao-growing countries.

That was my feeling. At the very least, it's a very inspire project to pursue :)'
I was hoping there might exist some topographical resources online somewhere for map geeks. Considering some of these spots are land tantalizing to fossil fuel surveyors, maybe they might be quite hard to come by.
Here's someone that might be able to help you:
Louis Grivetti-- FOOD GEOGRAPHY -- Louis Grivetti, a food geographer in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, can talk about a variety of subjects, ranging from the history of chocolate to the Mediterranean foods of 1,800 years ago and how they relate to today. He is also leading a team effort to develop a comprehensive Web site on the history of chocolate. Contact: Louis Grivetti, Nutrition, (530) 752-2078,

I don't know him; I just got this information from a website.

I also uploaded 2 maps. I'm not sure if they're what you're looking for, but maybe it's a start.
The web site Lowe is referring to is in support of the book, "Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage" published by Wiley and funded in large part by Mars.

The web site itself (at the URL mentioned in the book is still very much a work in progress. As near as I can tell, there has been no substantive work done on the site in the last nine months or so.
Oh yeah, here's a chart about re-classifying cacao varietals that you might find interesting too.
Thanks all for your replies.

Samantha, yes I'm very much interested in cacao terroir. I'm a bit of a cartogrpahy geek, so literally mapping out the area in terms of orientation, elevation, climate and soil make up among others to me are fascinating. I'm curious if the concept of micro terroir that's prevalent in French wine appellations also hold true for a product like cacao and various regions where it's cultivated by smaller growers. Sounds like in terms of resources, I'll have to start compiling my own findings.

I'll read up on your link on Notes on Flavor right now.

There are no generally available maps that provide the information you are looking for; some companies might have ones they use for their own purposes (I have seen ones Nazario Rizek has for various plantations they manage in the Dominican Republic but I don't remember if they have elevation data on them). But finding the underlying stratigraphic detail is going to be very hard - so correlating the geography with soil conditions (and then climatic patterns) is going to be even harder.

I think that most of us in the industry with experience and knowledge agree that terroir is somehow involved, however, it's a lot more complex with cacao than with grapes - especially because the bulk of the crop is produced by smallholder farmers who don't care.
Thanks, Clay. I agree that it will be harder. And the end personality of a chocolate comes after its rearing in a certain environment and how it's handled after the fact. After assessing everyone's input, it might be a worthwhile project to explore that on my own, slowly but surely.
V- if there's something that needs doing Google had probably developed something to help. Have you considered using Google Earth to help keep track of plantations and areas? In the short term it can at least give you some basic info like coordinates.
A collaborative Google map is not a bad idea.

There are tools to draw regions as well (to describe boundaries), attach pictures, and more.

If this is of interest, I could set up the framework for people to work from.
Brilliant. Let's go for it.
I have one that might interest you. It is a map of the Ecuadorian Nacional. The only forastero in the world to be considered aroma cocoa . Consider Ecuador produces the 60% of the aroma cocoa of the world. I send you an attached doc. The arriba subtype is not mentioned in the map, but corresponds to the Los Rios and Guayas provinces, southwest of the country. It is the one Samantha talks about.
I hope this is useful to you.


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