more chocolate travel in Ecuador

I’ve got much more to share with you about our chocolate travel in Ecuador.

We explored Old Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in this post and got detained in a mudslide in this post.  You met ex-pat (American) chocolatier Jeff Stern and Elizabeth Hendley, an ex-pat (Canadian) cacao grower and owner of the Chocolate Jungle Lodge  in these posts.

Kallari Chocolate factory

The Kallari Cacao Cooperative was established in 1997 and makes its delicious chocolate bars in another location. Pictured above is their office.

Now … it’s time to introduce you to a company that is comprised of native Kichwa Ecuadorians who are growing cacao collectively as the Asociación Kallari cacao growers’ cooperative. Kallari Chocolate transforms its cacao into delicious chocolate products in a small factory near Misahualli, where we were staying at the Chocolate Jungle Lodge. During our visit, Kallari was building its brand new factory, which will have a tasting parlour and viewing room from where you can watch the chocolate being made. The new Kallari facility is planned to open in late 2013.

Carlos-site-manager-at Kallari

We had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Pozo, the site manager and general coordinator in charge of construction of the new Kallari production facility

Kallari’s story is an interesting one. In Peru, we met cacao farmers and learned how they grow, harvest and ferment the cacao. But they don’t make it into chocolate. The cacao is bagged and delivered to chocolate companies (domestically and internationally) who may complete the fermentation process to their specifications and then custom roast the beans before they are crushed and transformed into cocoa liquor and ultimately … chocolate.

The Kallari cooperative is comprised of 850 families living in five different counties and 21 different villages within the Napo province of Ecuador. In all, there are 3,500 Kichwa people involved in the entire bean-to-bar process, selecting and germinating the cacao beans into seedlings, planting and nurturing them, and then harvesting the beans, fermenting them, and roasting, crushing, and conching the cocoa nibs for a mere 8-12 hours (in contrast to European-style chocolate which may be conched for 48-100 hours to make it smooth and creamy.)

kallari-chocolate-bars

The 70-gram Kallari bars are sold in the US through Whole Foods and in Toronto at SOMA chocolatemaker; the 50-gram Sacha bars are only sold in Ecuador.

Kallari makes two distinctly different kinds of chocolate bars. The larger, 70- gram “gourmet” Kallari bars are gluten free and exported and available for purchase at Whole Foods and selected shops such as SOMA chocolate maker in Toronto. The smaller 50-gram Sacha bars are presently only retailed in Ecuador. You can buy both types of bars and Kallari couverture (used for baking and making your own chocolate creations) online via the Chocosphere site.

The Sacha bars are my preference and truly decadent as they have a silkier texture and come in enticing flavours such as ginger that infuses three forms of fresh ginger and Andean salt into each tiny bar. Ultimately creative, and the fresh ginger flavour is intense, just the way I like it. In recent months, additional flavours have been added to the Sacha lineup and now include lemongrass, pineapple, banana chips, and more.

Kallari Chocolate also has a blog at http://kallarichocolate.blogspot.ca/ where you’ll find an assortment of recipes and additional information about the cooperative. Just click on one of the colourful pictures to read each full post and access the chocolate-focused recipes.

As an increasing number of consumers look to companies providing organic, natural products where they can trace the roots back to the producers, Kallari is an excellent choice for chocolate lovers with a social conscience. Kallari cacao growers earn a much healthier living via their membership in the cooperative than independent growers do, and are therefore better able to care for their families. I urge you to look for organic, sustainable chocolate like Kallari via the Chocosphere site or wherever you buy your chocolate.

Please join us back here the week of November 19th for our next new post.

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52 Comments

  1. I just adore chocolate with a fresh ginger flavor. Not all chocolatiers are able to combine these two things successfully, but this sounds like one that would.

    I love the fact that so many family/farmers are part of this. I will be keeping a eye out for a bar or two at Whole Foods. :-)
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: WineMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks for the comment, Susan.

      You’re so lucky that you live near a Whole Foods. We don’t have them here in Manitoba.

      Let me know how you like the Kallari bar once you’ve tried it. :-)

  2. I love chocolate! I will have to check this out at Whole Foods. :)
    Geek Girl recently posted..Motivational Monday 11/5My Profile

  3. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Yay, Cheryl! Thanks for your comment, and thanks for supporting the Kallari cacao cooperative by buying their bars. their children will thank you. :-)

  4. Salika Jay
    Twitter:

    Looks like they involve lot of families/people in making these chocolates. So, thanks for the reminder to look for organic, sustainable chocolates.
    Salika Jay recently posted..Prague: The Perfect European Holiday DestinationMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks for your comment, Salika. (I love that name.)

      Yes, the Kallari model really does help the families that are growing the cacao. They live a much better life via the cooperative compared to if they were trying to grow and sell the cacao themselves.

  5. I’ve had the Kallari chocolate and it was beyond delicious. So lovely to know that it’s made by a caring organization. That’s one chocolate bar that can’t be labelled a guilty pleasure!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Right on, Krystyna. I’ll have a chapter in my book on organic and sustainable chocolate and highlight some other producers similar to Kallari that are worth checking out.

      Thanks for dropping into the blog.

  6. I visited Ecuador 15 years ago and am sorry to have missed these great chocolate stops. I’ll be on the lookout for the Kallari in whole food stores near me…I don’t know if they sell them in Quebec. Hope so!

  7. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Hi Barbara and thanks for visiting the blog. I think Ecuador’s chocolate industry has progressed immensely in the past 15 years. I’m told by those who live there that chocolate is still not something locals will pay top dollar for, and that they consider it candy as opposed to an adult’s gourmet treat, but that is changing.

    But yes, give Kallari a try and let me know what you think. You’ll be helping the farmers and their families.

  8. Of all the chocolate that we brought back, I think the Kallari (Sacha) ginger bar was Graham’s favourite. Teenage tastebuds are discriminating.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Yes, I remember how intense the smell of that Ecuadorian ginger was – even thru the closed wrapper in a double bag, you could still smell it! Maybe it’s the concentrated essential oil (of ginger) that makes the difference! Great memories. :-)

  9. Tope
    Twitter:

    I recently went organic, so kallari chocolate all the way baby!
    Tope recently posted..Tales of Love: I’m quitting because his mummy doesn’t like me!My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Right on, Tope! It’s great to eat organic whenever we can. Tastes great & is better for you.

  10. Mary-Anne Ignaszewski

    I’m all for eating more healthy. I have had homemade ginger ice cream so I know I would love the ginger chocolate.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Welcome to the blog, Mary-Anne!

      Yes, you would love the ginger chocolate. It is truly delicious.

      I’m sure we will be eating some amazing chocolate in St. Lucia next month as they grow some really good cacao and I’ve already tried the Hotel Chocolat chocolate from St. Lucia. 100% cacao. Pure bliss. Looking forward to tasting the chocolate delicacies of Jade Mountain as well. :-)

  11. Doreen — of all the things I learned here, the most surprising is how many different kinds of chocolate there are and how many countries produce chocolate. I, too, live near a new Whole Foods (lucky me) and I will check this one out – literally!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..EMC Promotes Employee Engagement on Social Media as Good for BusinessMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Yay, Jeannette! It’s always great when you drop in. :-)

      Thanks for your positive comments. And I’m glad you’ll check out Kallari! Let me know how you like it.

  12. Pat Bodman

    Will be at Whole Foods this week-end and picking some up. I am sure they appreciate your spreading the word and having all of us shopping at their store!!!

  13. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Thanks for that comment, Pat!

    Yes, I’ll haver to let Kallari know about the post and they can pass the info on to their rep at Whole Foods.

    Do let me know how you like the bars and thanks for helping the cacao farmers of Ecuador.

  14. Jeri
    Twitter:

    I love chocolate and make a habit out of pairing it with some great red wine quite often. I’ve never really tried many of the chocolates that are flavored. Luckily, a Whole Foods just opened not long ago in Charlotte, so I will have to keep an eye out!
    Jeri recently posted..Writer’s Workout: 15-Sentence Portrait PoemMy Profile

  15. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Yay, Jeri! Glad you’ll give the Kallari chocolate bars a try. Do let me know what you think.

    Yes, I’m not big on added flavours, either. Unless they are purely natural, and actually enhance the flavour of the chocolate as opposed to masking or overpowering it. That’s why I’m not usually in favour of chilli pepper chocolate. I find the pepper overpowers the chocolate. But I must say that in case of Constance Popp (whom I profiled in the previous post) she makes a perfect “Mexican” chocolate with chillis that is not at all overpowering to the lovely chocolate flavour.

  16. Ginger and Andean salt. Oh yeah. I will keep my eye out for these.
    Patrick Huff recently posted..My Barrel Is Bigger Than Your BarrelMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Patrick and thanks for your comment.

      Yes, it’s amazing how you can take simple ingredients and enhance the flavour of the basic composition. Just as is done with craft beers!

  17. It’s amazing how much interesting information there is about chocolate. Had never even thought about chocolate travel before I started reading your blog. It’s really interesting to know how much more there is to chocolate than meats the eye.
    Catarina recently posted..Are you curious?My Profile

  18. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Thanks for your comment, Catarina. Glad to know you’re finding the blog interesting.

    I was shocked to read an article in the NYT travel last week written by someone who thought she had made a big discovery by visiting several Caribbean Islands along the chocolate trail. She thought she had invented the idea of “choco-tourism!” I guess I’ll have to better publicize my blog! All help in that regards is much appreciated. :-)

  19. Didn’t knew that Ecuador was a shrine for Chocolate growers. Maybe someday I get a chance to taste the Kallari Chocolate :)
    Bishal Adhikary recently posted..King Crab Leg SidesMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks for your comment, Bishal. Yes, South America has an upcoming and coming chocolate industry that is really taking shape. Excellent cocoa is now being grown and excellent chocolate is now being produced in Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

  20. Doreen, I had no idea that Kallari made gluten free chocolate or that it was available at Whole Foods. That would make a wonderful gift for the holidays. So many people I know are on gluten free diets. I’m sure they would appreciate this and your recommendation is enough for me.

    BTW – I absolutely love the changes that you’ve made to your blog. It’s looking great!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Sherryl, and your compliments on recent changes to the blog. I’m continually trying to make it better and more visually appealing. :-)

      Yes, it’s good to know that Kallari is gluten free, organic, sustainable chocolate made by the folks who are growing it. It’s not the most exquisite chocolate I’ve ever had, but given its good attributes and reasonable price, it’s definitely worth looking up. Enjoy the holidays!

  21. Bob

    I am also a Winnipeg based blogger. I explore Winnipeg and beyond, the food scene, concerts, festivals and the like.

    Have you tried Anthony Bourdain’s new chocolate, Good and Evil. The indigents are sourced from the heart of the Amazon in a fair trade method.

    Looking forward to learning more about the world of chocolate. Feel free to check me out at Exploring Winnipeg and Beyond on WordPress.com.

    Bob

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Bob and thanks for dropping into the blog. It’s always nice to meet another lifestyle blogger.

      Yikes! Don’t call the “Good & Evil” bar an Anthony Bourdain bar! He was simply along for the ride!

      I was in the Amazon jungle in both Peru and Ecuador and stayed where the cacao is being grown, harvested, and fermented. Although AB and I are colleagues on Travel & Escape, I would hesitate to call him a chocolate expert!

      The “Good & Evil” bar was produced by Pennsylvania-based award-winning chocolatier Christopher Curtin, who owns and operates Eclat Chocolate.

  22. Bob

    Yikes. Please accept my apologies on the Good and Evil, chocolate is not my forte.
    I only saw his name on the package from his twitter account. I stand corrected and I now know where to come for all of my coco based inquires.

  23. Doreen
    Twitter:

    No problem, Bob. Thanks for subscribing to the blog. I promise to give you interesting and accurate info. :-)

  24. Hello chocolate guru! I’m starting to think of scouring supermarkets and online stores for that one-of-a-kind Ecuadorian chocolate experience. No diet for me this time!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Kristine: Yes, surprisingly, you can often find some pretty good chocolate bars at grocery and drug stores. Just be sure to read the labels, so that you are buying something that has cocoa as the first ingredient and not sugar!
      Doreen recently posted..Pacari is king of Ecuadorian chocolateMy Profile

  25. Emilia

    Chocolate and more chocolate! Maybe I should book a trip to Ecuador too to sample their decadent and one of a kind cacao treat as well.

  26. Chocolate and Ecuador are by far some of the things that go well with each other. Thank you for bringing this up Doreen.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks, Kelly. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by all the fabulous chocolate we found in both Ecuador and Peru. I hope you’ll subscribe so that you can continue the chocolate journey with us.
      Doreen recently posted..Pacari is king of Ecuadorian chocolateMy Profile

  27. I am a big chocolate fan and I love reading about them on your blog. I have never heard of sacha bars. Keep up the good work, Doreen.

  28. Joy

    My sweet tooth’s going crazy right now. All those lovely, out-of-this-world flavors is just so enticing! My uncle lives in Ecuador, now I know what to ask him for Christmas. I’m not too excited about the ginger flavored one but looks like it may have to try it to feed my curiosity. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks for your comment, Joy. The cool thing is that really good chocolate isn’t very sweet. In fact, some say it tastes bitter. There are definitely acidic undertones. But it’s delicious, good for you, and one of nature’s wonder foods, so enjoy! And Kallari has many flavours, so if ginger isn’t your bag, go for the pineapple, banana, hot chilli or just plain chocolate. Let me know how you like it!
      Doreen recently posted..does chocolate beer contain real chocolate?My Profile

  29. Seriously, this blog is so informative that I suddenly crave for chocolates! I hope that I can have the chance o take a trip to the Kallari cooerative and see how they get things done. I am quite curious about how these cacao are being cultured and harvested.Thanks for sharing
    Veronica recently posted..Multi tasking is in anyone’s reach thanks to SuiteDashMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Veronica and thanks for visiting the blog. If you’re curious about the harvesting of cacao, just search for the post I did on “cacao growing in Peru.” You’ll see info and pics there from the harvest there.
      Doreen recently posted..does chocolate beer contain real chocolate?My Profile

  30. It is an amazing thought that for every chocolate we eat that came form Kallari cacao cooperative means extending our help to many families that are involved in making these amazing sweets possible. I will definitely promote this to my friends. Not only that we satisfy our cravings for chocolates, but we get to help many families as well. Thanks for letting us know, Doreen!

  31. Hi Doreen! I’m so glad I came upon your blog! I love reading your stories – 3 of my favorites things are Chocolate, Travel and Writing! Your passion for life really shows through your writing. We are planning a trip to Ecuador at the end of March for our 25th wedding anniversary and I was really glad you wrote about Ecuador and chocolate as I want to make sure Cacao growing is on our agenda! We are going to visit Samuel Von Rutte at his farm but I would love to meet the lady you wrote about – I believe its Elizabeth. So, I am hoping to contact her. Any suggestions for us? I look forward to hearing from you and to more blogs! Have a great day!

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Kristi and thanks for the enthusiastic comment! I hope you’ve subscribed to the blog so that you don’t miss any new posts. Chocolate travel is always on the menu here. If you like writing, you may enjoy my other blog as well. It’s about the writing life. You’ll find that at http://doreenpendgracs.com.

      Yes, you can contact Elizabeth in Ecuador via the link for the Chocolate Jungle that I included in the post. Have fun!
      Doreen recently posted..when travelling, the little things can mean a lotMy Profile

  32. Ah I see Doreen – most interesting. I’ve only been here in Cuenca, Ecuador abut 4 months and have much to explore. I hope to make it to visit the Kallari coop one day soon. Thanks for telling me about it.

    P.S. Hope you can see that postcard photo “flip” on your computer at home – it’s really quite fun. ;)
    Dyanne recently posted..Foto Flip Friday: Follow Your Dreams (Submit Week 1)My Profile

    • Thanks for dropping by, Dyanne. Yes, I hope you make it over to the new Kallari factory, where you can watch the chocolate being made. Try the Sacha Ginger Bar. It’s amazing!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..planning a virtual book tourMy Profile

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