White Creole Cacao from Piura
For a chocolate lover, trying what the region of Piura has to offer is one of those unforgettable experiences. Situated in Northern Peru, near the Ecuadorian border, Piura offers a special treat: white cacao. About 800 hectares of cacao are produced in Piura, in the districts of Chulucanas, Palo Blanco, Charanal, Platanal, Morropón, the low regions of Bigote, Canchaque, Yamango, Santo Domingo, Montero, Paimas and Tambogrande.
This white Peruvian cacao is recognized worldwide for its fine characteristics and a unique aroma which begins with fruity, citric notes then assumes a floral note, with nuances of red berries, walnut and hazelnut as well as the scents of the high jungle. White cacao from Piura stands out thanks to the quality of its beans from organic production. It requires different post-harvest treatments (fermentation and drying), as the climate is so hot that the cacao beans must be prevented from drying out. The degree of dryness is also controlled during roasting, as these stages are crucial for the development of the natural aromas that lead to their high price on international markets. The pulp surrounding the beans is used to make a delicious jam used both for desserts and for salty dishes.
The cacao harvest and the recognition of the product have encouraged the families in this region, who have seen an improvement in their economy. To reach this objective, they opted to work in cooperatives so they were able to increase the possibilities of product exposure and sale. It is known that this cacao variety is quite rare, so Piuran cacao farmers have united with their colleagues in Tumbes, and also with some Ecuadorian producers, to focus on highest-quality consumption.
One factor which has driven change in Piura is the awards this cacao has picked up on different international stages. In July 2011, a group of French and Mexican chocolatiers visited the district of Chulucanas, among them French maître chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat, from Bonnat Chocolates. Bonnat won first prize for the best chocolate bar in Europe in 2012 with a chocolate based on this cacao variety. Bonnat found it in Morropón, in the department of Piura. “When we went to the plantations, we saw the same old Creole cacao that was grown thousands of years ago,” said Bonnat. “This finding made Peru one of the most important centers of genetic diversity of cacao, as 10 varieties with a unique fragrance are native to this country”.
In 2011, the white Piuran cacao also won the Fifth National cacao Competition in Lima. Last year, at the International Chocolate Salon in France, the same product won first prize among the Latin American cacaos, while Piura Quemazón, made by the Ecuadorian Company Pacari, was ranked first at the International Chocolate Awards.
How to get there:
Piura is accessible by plane, there are flights on a daily basis from Jorge Chavez International Airport. You can also get there by land with a wide array of transport companies. Flight time is 1hr; by land the trip takes approximately 13hrs.
Piura is a tourist spot not just because of it's cacao, but for its beaches. These have sun all year long,have spectacular conditions for surfing, windsurfing and scuba-diving. You will find a variety of accommodation options to suit your preferences.
How to book a visit to a Hacienda:
Cacaosuyu - This company has grown to be the prime reference for Piura’s cacao.