Small Guide of Peruvian Cocoa

Have you ever wondered what makes Peruvian cocoa so special? In this article, we invite you to discover everything about Peruvian cocoa, from its history to its impact on the local economy and its role in world gastronomy. Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of Peruvian cocoa and understand why it is so appreciated globally.

History of Peruvian Cocoa

Cocoa has been cultivated in Peru since ancient times. The earliest evidence of cocoa use in this region dates back to pre-Columbian civilisations, such as the Mochica and the Chavin, who used cocoa both in religious ceremonies and in their daily diet. With the arrival of the Spanish, Peruvian cocoa began to gain recognition in Europe for its unique quality and flavour.

Characteristics of Peruvian Cocoa

Cocoa Varieties

Peru is home to some of the finest cocoa varieties in the world. Among the most prominent are Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero. Each of these varieties has distinctive characteristics in terms of taste, aroma and quality.

  • Criollo cocoa: Criollo cocoa is known as the ‘prince of cocoas’ because of its exquisite and delicate flavour, as well as its aromatic and low acidity. It is a rare and highly valued variety on the international market.
  • Cocoa Trinitario: Trinitario is a hybrid between Criollo and Forastero. It combines the robustness of the Forastero with the complex flavours of the Criollo, which makes it highly appreciated by chocolatiers.
  • Forastero cocoa: Forastero is the most widely cultivated variety worldwide. Although it is less delicate than Criollo, it is very productive and has a strong, bitter taste.

Cocoa Production Process

  • Cultivation: Cocoa is grown in Peru mainly in the Amazon and Andean regions at an altitude of between 300 and 900 metres, where the climatic conditions are ideal for its growth, as cocoa plants require shade and humidity, with an approximate production of 36,000 tonnes per year and 66,000 hectares of cultivated land.
  • Harvesting: Harvesting cocoa is a laborious process carried out by hand from March to September in different areas of the country, from the Cusco valley to the departments of Junín, Piura, Huánuco and Amazonas. The cocoa fruits, known as mazorcas, are cut carefully so as not to damage the trees. The cobs are then split open and the seeds are extracted, which are fermented for several days to develop their flavour.
  • Drying and roasting: After fermentation, the cocoa beans are dried in the sun to reduce their moisture content. They are then roasted at different temperatures to bring out their unique flavours and aromas.

Economic and Social Impact

  • Benefits for Farmers: Cocoa cultivation is a vital source of income for thousands of Peruvian farmers. Through fair trade programmes and cooperatives, many farmers have been able to improve their livelihoods and obtain fair prices for their produce.
  • Environmental conservation: Cocoa cultivation also contributes to the conservation of Amazonian ecosystems. Many initiatives promote sustainable agricultural practices that protect biodiversity and reduce deforestation.

Peruvian Cocoa in Gastronomy

  • High Quality Chocolates: Peruvian cocoa is the main ingredient in some of the finest chocolates in the world. Renowned chocolatiers use Peruvian cocoa to create products that stand out for their complexity and richness of flavours.
  • Derivative products: In addition to chocolate, Peruvian cocoa is used in a variety of products, such as liqueurs, cosmetics and health foods. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are popular ingredients in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Cocoa Tourism

  • Cacao Routes: Peru offers several tourist routes where visitors can learn about the process of cultivation and production of cocoa. These routes include visits to plantations, chocolate workshops and tastings, offering an immersive experience in the world of cocoa.
  • Cacao Festivals: Every year, several cacao festivals are held in different regions of Peru. These events are an excellent opportunity to taste local products, meet the producers and enjoy cultural activities related to cocoa.

Future of Peruvian Cocoa

  • Innovation and Technology: The future of Peruvian cocoa is full of promise, thanks to innovation and technology. Research in biotechnology and advanced agricultural practices are helping to improve the quality and productivity of Peruvian cocoa.
  • Market Expansion: As demand for fine cocoa continues to grow globally, Peruvian cocoa has the potential to expand into new markets and gain even more international recognition.

Peruvian cocoa is much more than just an ingredient; it is an integral part of Peru’s culture, economy and biodiversity. From its ancestral origins to its prominent place in modern gastronomy, Peruvian cocoa continues to conquer palates and hearts around the world. Whether you are a chocolate lover or simply curious to learn more about this wonderful product, Peruvian cocoa awaits you with its rich history and incomparable flavours.

Explore the world of Peruvian cocoa and discover why it is considered one of the best in the world!

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