Salon de Chocolate EcuadorThis Friday we went to the 9th annual Salón del Chocolate, the Chocolate Expo, held this weekend in Cumbayá, Ecuador in the Paseo San Francisco shopping center's Quorum Expo Center. The expo offered professional seminars, workshops led by national and international chefs, art and agricultural exhibits and activities for children. The focal point of the expo was the more than 50 exhibitors showing off their cacao, chocolate & coffee in all imaginable forms.

Themes of the professional seminars included discussions on the state of the cocoa market, exports, logistic solutions, image and marketing, fermentation and drying of cacao, single origin designation, fair trade, labeling, and organic certification. National and international chefs' presentations included chocolate pairing with beers and Ecuadorian flavors, methods of coffee preparation, along with chocolate and coffee recipes.

During the week at satellite locations, there were related events offering gastronomic dinners, tastings with wine and beer, chocolate therapy, extended workshops, master classes and the 1st International Summit of Chocolatiers and Pastry Makers.

We spent most of the day Friday at the Chocolate Expo—we took several hundred photos including products, displays, and the individual farmers. We had the opportunity to get a few impromptu interviews, we met with individual families and associations who are plant-to-bar chocolate makers. We also received invitations to visit some of these farms—both on the coast and in the Oriente (the Ecuadorian Amazon). We are grateful to be in a place where we are able to personally meet these individuals and be part of their aspirations.

In the months to come, we will be posting the interviews and more details from the fair. Below is a gallery of photos that were at the chocolate fair. The photos were taken in the early 1900s which detail the lives of the plantation workers and the estate owners. Below the gallery is a list of the vendors we visited at the fair. We hope you enjoy getting to know about the culture and farmers.

Below is a listing of vendors we visited. Some have websites and Facebook pages and some have very little or no marketing materials. When possible, we provided links to their web or Facebook page.

Cacao Beans From Ecuador

These bars made with the beans from Royal Cacao are absolutely the best we've ever made! They are unbelievably delicious! Thanks Michael for sending such quality cacao.

Veritas Artizen Chocolates