Heirloom Ecuador Arriba Cacao
Many of you have recently purchased and tried our La Bahia dark chocolate bar. The cacao origin is Ecuador. The name of the bar is inspired by our Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, TX. Presidio La Bahia meaning “fort on the bay” got its name because it was originally located near Lavaca Bay. This historic Presidio relocated to Goliad, but kept the name La Bahia. Just wanted to clarify this as there is a Brazilian cocoa bean called Bahia. But that isn’t really what I wanted to tell you about.
I simply noted the cacao origin as being from Ecuador because often the term “Arriba” which means up river (specifically the Guaya River) is used a little loosely in some cacao supply circles. The beans we used were indeed from Ecuador and they were billed to me as Arriba but I had no real assurance that the term Arriba meant much more than marketing hype. The chocolate is real good and that is what really mattered to me anyways.
Then about a month ago I got connected with a group that harvests high elevation wild cacao in Ecuador. Specifically from the regions of Manabi, and Esmeraldas.
They harvest wild heirloom 100% Arriba Nacional cacao irrigated only by rain water and carry the cacao harvest by donkey down to the center where the fermentation steps take place. When I finally received this cocoa bean I could immediately see and taste a difference. The wild Arriba has a slightly broader variance in bean size. The skin is lighter in color and much thinner than the other Ecuador cocoa bean we’ve been using.
Wild Arriba on the left, Previous Ecuador on the right
Super duper excited to see what the potential for this bean is, I did a couple of test roasts, and then landed on a roasting profile that I thought made sense. Our first real batch was in process as the Valentine’s day rush was happening. Now that the dust has settled from a hectic couple of weeks, I got around to tempering and molding the first bars. The color is deeper, the aroma is richer, and the flavor is more developed than the Ecuador cocoa bean we used for La Bahia.
Since this heirloom bean was so interesting we decided to make it with Pure Cane sugar instead of the Sun Dried Cane Juice. The reason for this is that Pure Cane sugar is essentially flavor neutral and we wanted to really highlight the flavor of this cacao origin. I’m going to get into a whole discussion about sugar soon as we desire opinions from a cross section of chocolate lovers, and connoisseurs. I’m also going to have an Aggie registered dietitian chime in on the topic. We did not use any vanilla and added a minimal amount of cocoa butter which happens to also come from the same heirloom Arriba bean. You might say this chocolate bar is Arriba Arriba. The tasting notes that Michelle and I came up with for this chocolate bar are: Rich, Savory, and Macerated Black Cherry. There is a very subtle scotch or brandy note on the finish that we found very interesting. There are also some notes that might be best described as floral.
We have only about 40 bars of this version of La Bahia for now. More cocoa beans are on the way and is expected to arrive in late February or early March. For those of you that ordered chocolate and have been patiently waiting for us to deliver, you are getting this heirloom Ecuador Arriba bar. I just want to mention this, because of the change in sugar from what is/was on our web site.
If you want to try this, I’d suggest you get in touch pretty quick. You can buy this under our Buy Chocolate tab, via email, or calling us.