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Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51

There is debate about the Arriba bean and whether indeed there is any such thing any longer. Some say that Arriba is one bean in a category they would like to call Nacional, and others say it synonymous with that term. Many chocolate makers using cacao from Ecuador slap this fashionable Arriba label on their packages since this carries with it the status of the fine and flavor beans.

And so opening up a general discussion on Arriba, Nacional and Ecuador chocolate, and a place to gather links and references for further reading.

And also specifically attempting to get to the bottom of which companies are using CCN51, and which are using "Arriba" or Nacional beans that are distinguished from that clone. What I have been told so far is that of the companies producing the chocolate in Ecuador, that Plantations uses "mainly the CCN51 clone," and that Republica del Cacao uses "100% pure Nacional beans." And if that is the case, what precisely can 100% pure Nacional mean nowadays? And the other companies who are making the chocolate at source such as Pacari, Caoni, and Kallari, what is the cacao? And what about couverture Arriba from Felchlin and Callebaut? And what is the source of cacao for companies such as Dagoba, Hachez, and Chocolove, some of which do not make their own chocolate from the bean, but who use the word Arriba?

Tags: arriba, ccn51, ecuador, nacional

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Scientist will read it, and keep digging. The issue is that Motomayor worked with cacao from live collections (think on large cocoa gardens where they (more or less) know from where each plant came), so it is not like all is said and done. You will need more info (more points) for making this info part of a GIS. Well, it is a start, and lets hope costs go down so we can use this technique more often.
Here are a couple of other fascinating discussions around here for more information about reclassification of cacao varieties, in this one we are pointing out different things about cacao of Ecuador.

http://www.thechocolatelife.com/forum/topics/1978963:Topic:4592

http://www.thechocolatelife.com/forum/topics/cacao-info-resources
Hello Casey;

I just became a member on chocolate life Upon receiving an email form a friend mentioning there was comments on our chocolate" Vintage Plantations" which were not true. Comments posted by lars Klassen .
Vintage Plantations is not owned by the Crespo family. Vintage Plantations does not say " Arriba" on its bars.
We do not use cocoa beans from the Crespo family. We partnered with this family in Ecuador, in order to have a collection point for our nacional cocoa beans coming from the Luz y Guia Cooperatives and la Florida cooperatives. The Crespo family could not collect enough cocoa beans from the cooperatives and we started to use a mix of CCn51 with the nacional. It appears The Crespo family goals diverged very quickly with our goal. and we no longer work with this family. As klars Klassen says, we work with small farms group of 12-15 families growing exclusively old "nacional antigua" Not the new nacional. ( another pandora Box). Upon trying many different model for sourcing only the old varietals from Ecuador , we have concluded , considering the constant hybridations of cocoa genotypes, that it was more accurate to talk about the Location and how it was fermented. The company is owned by Allan Suarez, and Pierrick Chouard by the way. We started sourcing cacao in Ecuador upon visiting Alaln suarez extended Family in the barrios of Guayaquil and bringing them clothes and others ustensiles from the USA. We have been Teaching about cacao post harvest process in Ecuador with my college friends from CIRAD. I Hope it dispells the misunderstanding. On a personal note: very good Chocolate was made using very mediocre Cocoa beans: When I launched Michel Cluizel chocolates in the USA , prior to pursuing my sustainable goals with Vintage Plantations chocolates, we sourced cocoa beans from a family in Dominican republic. This family benefited from students from Holland who were doing their PHD's on Post harvest process. Upon meeting these students and tinkering with their system, it appears they had excellent results, which were fully exploited by Michel Cluizel into a Good chocolate bar. My point ; The discussion of origins or genotypes is not a guarantee of quality in chocolate. and using "origins" as a marketing tool is premature until there is an independant international Audit controlling and certfiying : the entire commodity chain. We are a long way away from the wine and I am not sure this is the way to go. I would recommend: against making your choice of buying chocolates according to origins, or genotypes today.
The Word" arriba" Is not on our chocolate bars precisely for these reasons.
A fine and learned discussion here. Not sure if this matters much, but it is a piece of the puzzle: the USDA offers free testing to determine the percentage of criollo-type genes, and forastero genes. The guy I've been discussing this with at USDA is Mr Dapeng Zhang,
Dapeng.Zhang@ARS.USDA.GOV

Another piece of the puzzle-- the color of the cacao seed. As far as I can tell almost all cacao seeds are purple, which is a forastero trait. This of course does not mean that all purples are mainly forastero. I know one purple seeded variety that tastes (to my rustic palate) very criollo, very mellow.
However, I'd guess that the white and pink seeded varieties (pretty rare I think) are either all or mostly criollo.
I intend to find out more in the coming harvest in Nicaragua

Whenever I've seen seed color referred to, wirters use the word "cotyledon." I believe this is incorrect: the cotyledon is the first LEAF out of the seed, here's an official definition: "A leaf of the embryo of a seed plant, which upon germination either remains in the seed or emerges, enlarges, and becomes green. Also called seed leaf."

I'm no expert, JS Hepler
Just to be clear about the photo... the wrinkled things near the bottom are the cotyledons, which are formed during embryo development and make up the bulk of the seed, after germination these stay on the plant for a week or two and all the nutrients inside are used by the seedling, then what is left over just falls off the seedling. These are not leaves. The green leaves at the top of the plant are formed from the apical meristem which is a tiny speck at the top of the embryo in the seed, you could not see it without a microscope until the seedling starts to grow and produce leaves. I hope this clarifies this discussion.

Mark Guiltinan
Yes, thanks we agree as to what a cotyledon is. I have seen various writers talk of the color of the "cotyledon" when the CONTEXT told me they meant SEED. That is, the inner seed inside the hull.

I find it odd that I have rarely if ever, in my rustic research, that writers remark the color of the seed. From my experience in the field, in Mexico, the "criollo" has pink seeds. I think that otherwise pink or white seeded cacaos are very rare. I'm thinking that perhaps one of the first traits the forastero shares in a cross is its purple color. As I have rarely seen seeds other than purple colored in a region whose original stuff was the criollo.

Please correct me in this...
Yes you are right, the color, indicating the presence of flavonoids, is found in most cacao, but some "rare/pure" are white/pinkish. Normally, the purple color trait segregates as a dominant trait, so yes, in a cross with a criollo, the seeds will usually, but not always be purple. It is possible to have a cross where 50% will be white and 50% purple also. Basic Medellian genetics.
> possible to have a cross where 50% will be white and 50% purple also. Basic Medellian >genetics.
Possible no doubt. I've never seen it but will be looking closely at a lot of cacao pretty soon.
Thank you for this Brian. Where are you, and what is the (suspected?) pedigree of this cacao?
Interesting, and pertinent, Samantha. Love that erudition.
The marvel to me is somehow from those original cacaos somewhere near the confluence of what is today Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil; some of it travels south, some eastward that become purple, the "forastero" type. I can understand a slow spread like that.

But the other trip, north and west where the first indications of its use are in Mexico, south of Tabasco, 2000 rugged miles away-- the white type, the "criollo" appears. Monkeys (they are ubiquitous in cacao country Mexico and Nicaragua) do not eat cacao, luckily for these farmers. Squirrels eat plenty but they tend to eat the pods right on site, as we see from the seeds dropped directly beneath the trees, uneaten.

I find it hard to swallow that humans carried it all that way, before the year 2000 BC. [I heard from a learned doctor that pre-Olmecs used cacao.] Seeds do not remain viable very long outside the pod. Pods tend to rot pretty quickly.

And Samantha-- in spite of her PhD in Chocolatology uses the word "seed", referring to the same thing the hifalutin text refers to interchangably as "cotyledon" and seed.
Interesting and curious article. Thanks for sharing.
Two things:

Jeff, the practice is to graft CCN-51 scions in Nacional stock (so you get a CCN-51 tree and pods with Nacional root stock). Grafting is a asexual plant reproduction technique... so you get 'pure' scion material. If people were grafting pure Nacional scion on CCN-stock you will get pure Nacional pods... the stock does not contribute to the pods (well, depends who pollinates what... but that is a another tale).

About coops mixing Nacional and CCN-51, I wouldn't generalize. Some do mix, some other do not because they have premiums for Nacional... and the members are old and they have only Nacional trees. You have a considerable amount of self-selection among coop members. Cheaters are normally expelled if the coop is buying fresh beans (en baba). The "pepa" of CCN and the "pepa" of Nacional are quite distinctive (hybrids Nacional x CCN are a nightmare... but what do we call these? :) So,
if a coop pays a premium of $10 for Nacional, if they pay market price (or below market price) for CCN-51, this pushes CCN farmers to the intermediaries (and out of the coops), because these guys gave them some other things (i.e., loans) and the productivity of the crop supplies for the other services...

Nevertheless, even in the best case (premiums: 40% over market price for FT ORG cocoa), but CCN-51 yields three times as much as Nacional.... so younger cacaoteros tend to have CCN51.

For the rest.... I agree with you... I think Nacional or Arriba have become merely a marketing term, buy quality is more a hit and miss thing (depends on who, what year, what was the sourcing that person used).

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