What is Cacao?The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is where all chocolate products come from. The cacao tree is a small 4-8 meter (13–26 foot) tall tropical tree which grows within 20° north and south of the Equator and produces a large fruit or pod containing about 30-50 seeds. It is the seeds of this pod from which all chocolate and chocolate by-products like cocoa mass, cocoa butter, ganache, etc., are made. Generally, the tree, its pod, and the beans inside are typically referred to as "cacao." In the adjacent photo is an example of fine flavored cacao with its signature orange-yellow pods. (wikipedia.org)
What is Fine Flavored CacaoEcuadorian fine flavored cacao is recognized internationally and is highly sought after for creating a distinguished premium dark chocolate. It is known for its floral/fruity aromas, rich chocolate base notes, balanced acidity and a smooth finish. Fine flavored cacao of Ecuador is a limited crop comprising just 5% of cacao production worldwide. And, because of factors such as the geographical location, soil, topography, and climate, Ecuador produces 63% of that fine flavored cacao. [SOURCE]
Which Part is Used for Making Chocolate?Chocolate is made from the dried bean sometimes combining it with cocoa powder and cocoa butter along with other ingredients to get the familiar consistency and flavor we recognize as chocolate.
What is CCN-51In addition to the fine flavored cacao of Ecuador, Ecuador is also home to a hybrid, called CCN-51 invented sometime in the 1960s. CCN-51 is an abbreviation of Coleccion Castro Naranjal with 51 being a reference to the cross number of this variety. The CCN-51 is sometimes referred to as “Don Homero” after the inventor Homero U. Castro. And while the CCN-51 has a reputation of undesirable and dull flavors it does have its place in the market. The CCN-51 is a very prolific hybrid, producing up to 4 times more fruit than other local species, it is also highly resistant to diseases and matures in only two years. CCN-51 can be easily identified by the pods’ red tint during its development and maturation; it is appreciated for its high-fat content used for the manufacture of cocoa butter.
What are Cocoa Pods?Cocoa pods are the thick outer skin of the cacao fruit. On the live fruit, the cacao pod is about ½ inch thick but after drying, the skin becomes very thin with the constancy of wood. Inside the pod are the cacao seeds, which when opened, is covered in a refreshingly sweet and tangy white pulp. To make a chocolate bar as we know it, the beans are first fermented, dried and roasted. These roasted beans are then processed into a cacao liquor which serves as the base for the thousands of chocolate products we enjoy.
What's the difference between "CACAO" & "COCOA"Heavy processing (heating at higher temperatures) is what transforms cacao to cocoa. This processing doesn’t just affect how manufacturers label the end product, the heat actually affects the beans on a molecular level, changing their structure and developing the classic complex chocolate flavors we associate with modern chocolates. (thrivemarket.com)
Are Your Products Fair or Direct Trade?Yes, some are purchased by coorporatives under Fair Trade Certification. And, beans not purchased under Fair Trade by our trade partner, are always purchase above Fair Trade prices. Following the model of Collaborate Trade, we are committed to enriching our local community, the small, local farmers and their families, in delivering exceptional single-origin cacao to artisan chocolate makers and chocolatiers. Our focus is being community leaders, providing specialized support in technical documentation, production, and harvest of small cacao producers assisting them in the differentiation and commercialization of their fine cacao so they can compete in the international marketplace—a market previously inaccessible to these farmers. Additionally, we are dedicated to providing personal growth opportunities to local farmers and their families while promoting the development of the cacao sector where resources have traditionally been lacking.
Is Arriba Cacao Fine Flavored CacaoThis is a simple question with a long answer... As legend has it, a Swiss chocolatier in the 19th century identified the single-origin Arriba cacao located in the watershed area upriver from the Guyas. In contrast, around the year 2006, Ecuador’s Institute of Intellectual Protection gave the name “Arriba” to the National variety of this cacao tree grown throughout Ecuador including the coastal provinces of Santo Domingo, Manabí, & Esmeraldas, the Amazonian provinces of Sucumbíos, Napo & Orellana and southern provinces of Azuay, Cañar & Machala. [SOURCE] So, now we have two different meanings for the term Arriba—we have one meaning as a "single-origin" cacao and another meaning referring to Arriba as a National variety. At Royal Cacao, we will refer to Arriba in terms of a "single-origin" cacao and will refer to Ecuador's high-quality cacao as "fine flavored cacao", or in Spanish, "cacao fino de aroma."
What is a Nib?Nibs are broken bits of the cacao bean, typically roasted and winnowed (husks removed). The consistency of a cocoa nib is similar to a coffee bean—the primary sensation when eating a nib is a very deep floral chocolate flavor with subtle nutty notes with a slight bitterness at the end of the bite. At this stage of processing, nibs can be eaten as a snack, added to foods in a similar manner you might add nuts to a recipe or the nib can be processed into a cocoa mass or cocoa paste to be used in making fine chocolates and candies.
Are Your Cocoa Nibs Raw?No, our nibs are not raw. We currently sell our nibs roasted. The roasted nib can be safely eaten as is or further processed to be used in the production of fine chocolates & candies.
Are Your Whole Cacao Beans Raw?Yes, we typically sell our how cacao beans raw and can also deliver custom orders of roasted beans as well. Our raw bean bean is fermented and sun-dried.
How should I store my cacao liquor or chocolate?In general cacao liquor, chocolate, cocoa butter has a long shelf life which is generally considered to be a year with proper storage. When storing, find a cool dry location—ideally it should be stored between 14–16 °C (57–61 °F). An additional storage benefit can be gained by using polyethylene bags since the plastic lining helps to protect the beans from odors, mold, and pests. Because of the fat content of cacao beans, warm temperatures, specifically temperatures over 77°F, can turn the fat rancid. We do not recommend refrigeration of beans as a general rule do to the possibility of moisture damage. However, some people have reported successfully storing in a refrigerated environment using vacuum sealed bags. Remember that cacao easily picks up any odors from the environment.
What is Chocolate liquor (cocoa liquor)Our cocoa liquor, or paste, is a 100% pure, unsweetened solid cocoa mass. The cacao paste, or mass, is manufactured from the roasted cocoa nibs. The nibs are ground until they produce a silky smooth liquid paste. Note that the paste is only liquid at room temperature due to the friction of the grinding process. From this liquefied mass we make either bars or rounds. The manufacturing process will take this raw product, add an assortment of ingredients such as sugar, cocoa butter, milk, nuts, lecithin etc., to make fine chocolates and other candies.
Do You Use Chemicals in the Fermenting or Drying Process?All of the post-harvest processes are 100% chemical free. This includes the fermentation, sun drying, roasting & conching processes.
Is it Organic?We offer USDA Certified Organic cacao and the product will be clearly marked. Many of the traditional cacao we offer is grown organically and at this time and not certified as organic. As part of our mission, we are working with our partners assisting them to obtain organic certifications.
OrderingPlease review our Terms & Conditions page for ordering and shipping details.