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Terroir: ECUADOR

Arriba Nacional cocoa, one of the best cocoa in the world

Ecuador has the perfect conditions for cocoa farming which explains its expansion in the 17th century with the help of the Spanish. Its cocoa boom made it the biggest exporter in the world until the early 20th century. But competition with Ghana, epidemics, World War I and the collapse of the exchange rate saw production drop whilst bananas soared. Ecuador may account for around 20% of global production but the origin still has a fantastic reputation due to the standard of its Arriba Nacional cocoa.

Exclusive production

The Limon and Guantupi farms we work with belong to the 12 Tree company specialising in sustainable and socially responsible forestry and agroforestry systems. Almost 260ha of farmland on the foothills of the legendary Cotopaxi volcano. A unique terroir with outstanding conditions for producing and protecting the famous Arriba Nacional cocoa bean. An exclusive variety of cocoa with floral and fruity notes elevated by woody aromas that won over the teams at Chocolaterie de l’Opéra. It now has exclusivity over the Limon farm's entire production.

High standards elevated by commitment

The Limon farm has always produced first class cocoa, including the multi award-winning and very specific HCP #3. It has worked hard with 12 Tree to combat global warming, increase productivity and protect the unique flavour profile. This applies to plant selection, soil monitoring, pruning standards, replantation management and a new water irrigation system. The post-harvest processes have all been updated to implement a strict protocol: 3 days for fermentation and 5-10 days for drying.

A high-flying job creation campaign

Employees from neighbouring towns receive social support, study grants and 0% interest mortgages.  The 12 Tree programme plans to double the workforce and support the 86 farmers in the area.

Protecting the environment is key to the project. To date, the company has helped protect 28.5 hectares of natural habitats to encourage endangered flora and fauna to thrive here.