What, you didn’t know? Your favorite sweet treat may be made from an important Peruvian ingredient!
The Latin name for cacao is theobroma, meaning “food of the gods.” When the Spanish arrived to Peru, cacao was being used to make a special beverage and it was prized by the Incas. So considering its origins in the New World and important role in ancient Peruvian culture, it should come as no surprise that chocolate is such a delicacy even today.
And yet, when you think of delicious chocolates, your mind probably skips to your favorite chocolatier in Belgium, France or Switzerland. We’re guessing that you don’t think of Peru. However, it is very possible that your favorite chocolate is made from cacao that that was produced in this incredible country!
When making fine chocolates, every expert chocolatier knows that you must first start with the finest basic ingredients – and that means high-quality cacao. Only 10% of the world’s cacao harvest is considered high-quality, but the cacao grown in Northern Peru tops the chocolate quality scale. In fact, Peru is one of the world’s most important exporters of cacao.
Considering the extreme biodiversity of Peru, it should come as no surprise that Peru and cacao share a long history. The cacao tree originated in the Amazon jungle and the natives of this country have had access to cacao for years and years. Today, Peru grows three types of cacao: Trinitary, Amazon foreign, and Creole. The Creole variety is the most common and in the highest demand because of its high fat content that contributes to its high quality.
In Peru, cacao is cultivated mostly in the regions between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest. The main production zones include Cajamarca, San Martin, Huanuco, Junin, Ayacucho, Cusco and Puno. Most of Peru’s cacao is sourced from independent farmers who rely on having a good crop to make a living. Many of the cacao farms are in extremely rural areas where weather and road conditions can make transporting the crop very difficult. Thankfully cacao beans are resistant to heat and long periods of transportation, so the Peruvian beans can be shipped all over the world and turned into the delectable chocolate we all know and love.
If you are a chocolate fanatic, Peru is an excellent place to learn about the history and production of cacao and how it is used to make chocolate. At Enigma, we love chocolate and we’re extremely proud of Peru’s role in cacao production. When visiting Peru, we highly recommend visiting the Choco Museo at one of its many locations in Cusco, Lima, Ollantaytambo or Piscac, to learn all about this incredible product and participate in chocolate making workshops that are fun for the whole family!