Ecuador, one of Lattitude’s placement countries, produces some of the finest quality cacao in the world. Here we share a little bit of Ecuador’s chocolate story.
Guayaquil in Ecuador, also known as ciudad de cacao (chocolate city) was the leading exporter of cacao until the twentieth century, when West Africa took the top spot after bad harvests and the stock market crash in the 1920s.
Ecuador is not widely known as a chocolate producing country, however it is argued to have some of the best quality chocolate in the world. In fact, Ecuador supplies around 60% of the ‘Fine Aroma’ cacao, a title that less than 5% of chocolate produced is given. ‘Fine Aroma’ chocolate is considered to have floral and fruity flavours. Ecuador’s main export is cacao beans and they are known as ‘Nacional’ or ‘Arriba’ with a genetic lineage from around 5,300 years ago- the earliest known cacao.
After the cacao bean blight, farmers did not focus on producing cacao and put their energies into other fruits such as bananas, which were seen as better earners. This has changed within the last ten years, and cacao has become sought-after, as chocolate businesses focus on producing better flavoured chocolate. Not only is Ecuador striving to produce the best quality cacao in the world, but its more supportive of the local farmers producing it.
If you get the opportunity to go to Ecuador, it is well worth going on tours of chocolate factories and cacao plantations. As much as we can tell you a story, there is nothing like meeting the farmers and producers and hearing their stories.
Ecuadorian chocolate is available here in the UK, just check on the packet that it is fair trade- as it’s important to support the local farmers producing cacao.
Lattitude offers quality supported placements in Ecuador- including placements located in a cloud forest, and teaching and community assistant roles. Volunteers in Ecuador can add a whole list of skills to their repertoire (Spanish speaking, teaching, environmental and community work experience to name a few), but they will also have the opportunity to travel, and experience Ecuador- and be able to see the cacao and chocolate process for themselves- and through the Ecuadorians’ eyes.
Featured Image: National Geographic Traveller UK
1- Map: Rough Guides
2- Guayaquil: Tripsavvy
3- Cacao beans: Wikipedia
4-Pacari Chocolate: Vaya Adventures