If you’re interested in chocolate travel that focuses on where the cocoa is grown and an exploration of the culture and cuisine of the local farmers who grow the cocoa, Peru is a perfect destination for you. Peru is growing an increasing quantity of fine aromatic cocoa, and as a result, some of the most taste-tempting chocolate can be found in this South American country of breath-taking beauty.
Peruvian chocolate remains a personal favourite
I prefer chocolate with fruity notes in its flavour palate, so Peruvian chocolate remains one of my favourites. In previous posts, I’ve introduced you to the beautiful hand-painted chocolates of Roselen, and the tropical flavour offerings from other Peruvian chocolatiers such as Giovanna Maggiolo. In this post, I’d like to introduce you to a Peruvian coffee and chocolate cooperative that focuses on the purity of pure chocolate flavour.
Cooperativa Agragaria Naranjillo is located in the small city of Tingo Maria and is the largest producer of cocoa in all of Peru. We visited the factory and reception centre and learned that in addition to coffee and cocoa, farmers of the Naranjillo cooperative also produce honey and mead. We tasted the Mead Amazónic, called the “drink of love” as it is said to increase fertility and the likelihood of producing a male child.
I really enjoyed the Naranjillo milk chocolate with cocoa nibs. It was deliciously creamy, with crunchy bits of cocoa nibs to provide an interesting texture and taste. Everything Naranjillo makes is totally pure, with no added soy lecithin or vanilla added to the chocolate, and just a touch of organic cane sugar from Paraguay to take the bitter edge off the pure 100 percent organic chocolate.
Now in its 48th year of operations, there are 3,500 member farmers in the Naranjillo cooperative; 2,000 of those grow cocoa. Many also grow coffee, and I was fortunate to have been first introduced to Naranjillo chocolate a couple of years ago, when friend and coffee roaster extraordinaire Derryl Reid of Green Bean Coffee Imports returned to Manitoba from Peru with Naranjillo coffee and chocolate in hand. I still remember the intensity of tasting the pure 100% chocolate.
Naranjillo has just replaced their equipment with new pieces from around the world and continues to expand and improve their product line. They are also ready to welcome groups interested in experiential travel, so you can be sure that a return visit to Tingo Maria is high on my visit for a future group Chocolatour. We only had one night to spend at the amazing Madera Verde Tourist Hotel. How I wish we’d been there for a week!
Please join us back here the week of September 23rd for our next new post.