Its scientific name is Theobroma Cacao, a small tropical tree about 3 meters tall with large bright green leaves that grows naturally under the canopy of higher trees using their shade to shelter its colorful pods. Up to 50000 tiny flowers cover its trunk and its main branches, of these only 15 to 25 will make it into pods.
According to Felipe Duran Ramirez on his book “Cultivo y Explotacion del Cacao”, Cacao has its origin in the tropical jungles of the Amazonia in South America. It was the Maya who learned the benefits of the seeds, grinded them and added water to create “chocol-haa” (bitter-water). The Aztec called it “cacahuatl”, and both the Mayan and the Aztec used its seeds as currency, “with 4 seeds you could buy a rabbit, with 10 the company of a woman, and with 100 a slave.”
Cacao Criollo Porcelana
The Cacao Porcelana belongs to the Criollo variety, it is considered of fine aroma and flavor, and regarded as the best Cacao in the World. Its name refers to the color of its seeds, which are totally white or white with slightly pink edges. Its origins are south of the Lake of Maracaibo in Venezuela; I speculate that it reached the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta through indigenous exchange of past millenniums.
The chocolate produced with Cacao Porcelana has fragrant light and delicate tones, which allows to produce chocolates with a high percentage of Cacao, without the need of adding sugars or dairy products to better their final flavor. This way the chocolate still concentrates the original antioxidants, the medicinal and aphrodisiac properties present in pure Cacao.
Less than five percent of the world’s production of Cacao is of the Criollo variety, and a tiny percentage of this is of Cacao Criollo Porcelana.
Our search for the seed . . .
Our search for the seeds of Cacao Porcelana took us deep into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, despite people of the region telling us that they had never seen or heard of white cacao, we never lost hope. I knew from sharing with my Hopi friends in Arizona, that native peoples of the continent of America always had long and well established routes for the exchange of goods, and I figured that Cacao could not have been the exception, since it played such an important part in the Mayan and Aztec empires not only as the Drink of the Gods but also as currency.
Since Cacao Criollo Porcelana originates less than 200 kilometers away, at South of the Lake of Maracaibo in Venezuela, I had a strong belief that we would find the seeds. It was our Kogi friends who helped us find it, they called it “Cacao Silvestre”.
Here at Cinduli, we hope to make the best chocolate in the World!