Chocolate in Ecuador // An 8 Bar Blind Taste Test
The scientific name for chocolate is theobroma cacoa, which means food of the gods.
In Ecuador they call it black gold.
Chocolate is delicious, it’s sexy, and it all started in Ecuador.
Why move your eyes right and left when you can just stare at one point. Watch the video instead of reading the article here:
Ecuador grows some of the best cacao in the world. The world’s first cacao trees actually evolved in the upper Amazon jungles of Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.
It’s the only place in the world that grows Arriba cacao, a highly prized “fine aroma cacao”. Many of the chocolate bars in our taste test use this cacao.
A few years ago an archeologist discovered a ceramic pot with remnants of cacao bean in it. The pot dated back to 3300 BC, which would make Ecuador the first place to have harvested and consumed chocolate.
A couple of centuries ago, Ecuador was the biggest exporter of cacao, but that damn science, plus a high demand for the tasty treat, really made it impossible for Ecuador to hold on to that title.
West Africa now produces and exports way more chocolate than Ecuador, but they cater to the bulk kind of cheap everyday chocolate like a Hershey kiss.
Hershey Kisses… They can Hershey kiss my ass.
Ecuador is now responsible for just 5% of the world’s cacao production, but chocolate has been making a comeback in Ecuador.
Ecuador has started producing their own chocolate. In the past, almost all of their cacao was shipped out of the country to be processed into chocolate. But that started changing over the past 20 years. Now Ecuador is becoming one of the best high-end chocolate producers in the world. From bean to bar in one location.
Chocolate is one of the only industries in Ecuador that didn’t take a hit from of the coronavirus. Because of investments in technology, the national yield per hectare has been going up. In 2 years, the amount of exported chocolate from Ecuador has increased 21%.
The government expects that in 10 years, the value of chocolate exports will double from 763 million a year to 1.4 billion. That’s not only cause they’re making more chocolate – it’s also cause they’re making better quality chocolate that they can charge more for.
What’s Ecuador’s best chocolate?
I guess we’ll have to eat a bunch of it to find out. I setup a blind taste test with 8 different brands of Ecuadorian chocolate. I aimed for a 70% dark chocolate (70% chocolate and around 30% sugar).
Let’s see how the ultimate Ecuadorian chocolate taste test played out:
Bios – 63% chocolate – $1.97 for 100g (0.0197 per gram)
This was both the cheapest bar and the one with the least amount of chocolate in it.
Bios uses cacao from Esmeraldas province, which is on the northern coast of Ecuador. They’re one of the oldest chocolate brands in Ecuador – they started in 1912.
This bar contains the 3 main ingredients (chocolate, sugar, cacao butter) but also an emulsifier called lecithin which is made from soy. This helps to combine the fats with everything.
Yanakuri – 75% chocolate – $2.45 for 70 grams (0.035 per gram)
While this bar actually had the most amount of chocolate in it, it scored poorly because of the sweetener they used. It’s sugar free, but they use a variety of chemicals to sweeten it – maltodextrin, fructose, and sucralose. It also contains cacao butter and milk powder. While the cacao they use is highly prized, the chemical taste from the sweetener was just too strong.
Hoja Verde – 72% – $2.30 for 50g (0.046 per gram)
This bar is fully organic. They use cacao from Esmeraldas province, and it’s the only bar in this taste test that doesn’t contain cacao butter. It’s just chocolate and sugar. Unfortunately, the flavour of the chocolate just didn’t sit right.
Nestle – 72% – $2.41 for 50 grams (0.048 per gram)
Yes, this is a Nestle product, but this bar is made in Ecuador with Ecuadorian cacao. It contains the typical 3 ingredients: chocolate, sugar, and cacao butter. Overall, it was tasty but couldn’t compete with the other options, especially considering that there are cheaper options.
Minka – 70% – $2.40 for 50g (0.048 per gram)
Another bar that is 100% organic. It contains an emulsifier; along with the chocolate, sugar, and cacao butter. An all around good chocolate, but maybe not worth the cost.
Valdivian – 72% – $2.78 for 100g (0.0278 per gram)
The coastal province of Manabi provides the cacao for this bar. It’s fully organic with just chocolate, sugar, and some cacao butter in it. This one had a nice fruity taste to it. It was also the second cheapest option, so a really good bang for your buck.
Pacari – 70% – $2.57 for 50g (0.0514 per gram)
This fully organic bar was the most expensive of the 8. It’s a really popular brand in Ecuador. They make a lot of really cool varieties (chili, lemongrass, cuzco salt with nibs, passion fruit, etc). The company has won international chocolate awards. It was very close to be picked as the best chocolate, so it’s a really good option if you’re looking for a bar with some variety. It’s also the only bar on the list that you can get on Amazon. If you’re interested, this is an affiliate link – that just means I get a little bit of money if you buy the product through my link (but it costs you no extra money!) – Pacari Dark Chocolate. If you’re in Ecuador, you can visit Pacari’s chocolate shop in Quito and do a tasting. If you can make it out to the Amazon area, they also offer tours of their plantation.
RIGHTS – 70% – $2.34 for 50g (0.0468 per gram)
I must admit, the winner surprised us. RIGHTS is an organic and free trade bar that actually uses panela instead of sugar. Panela is sugar cane that has been boiled so all the liquid is evaporated. Their bars also contains cacao butter and an emulsifier. The sort of richness that the panela brings was what set this one apart from the rest.
That’s it for the taste test. Please keep in mind that there are many other brands of chocolate in Ecuador, so this isn’t necessarily the best chocolate in Ecuador, but you really can’t go wrong picking one of the top bars from this list.
If you love chocolate, come to Ecuador. There are quite a few chocolaterias in Quito, including some of the brands from this list, plus shops that just offer a variety of Ecuadorian chocolate. There are also farms in the Amazon that offer tours of the whole process. If you make it to Mindo, there is a small factory that has some of the best chocolate Ive ever had. They do tours and tastings. It really enjoyed it. Check them out here: El Quetzal Mindo.
Overall, Ecuador is one of the best places in the world to get acquainted with the black gold, and it’s only getting better.