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Discovering Pure Nacional

Discovering Pure Nacional

Recently, Sampsa Siekkinen, one of the co-founders of Goodio, traveled to Peru to meet the farmers behind one of the most rare cacao beans in the world --- Pure Nacional.

In the Marañón Canyon of Peru, Pure Nacional cacao is considered a gem in the chocolate industry. Even Anthony Bourdain visited these farms to see the “fabled trees” with white cacao beans.

Inside football-sized cacao pods lie more white beans than the commonly-found purple beans. This is what gives Pure Nacional its rich flavor. This variety of cacao beans was lost for 100 years and then recently discovered in Peru -- an unprecedented discovery by cacao experts.

The New York Times reported on the unique profile of this cacao:

The chocolate is intense, with a floral aroma and a persistent mellow richness. Its lack of bitterness is remarkable.

Dr Meinhardt, The Lead Researcher at the USDA,Genetics Lab said:

Cacao pods with 40% and 100% white bean Pure Nacional are an unprecedented discovery. White beans, have fewer bitter anthocyanins, produce a more mellow-tasting, less acidic chocolate. White beans are mutations that happen when trees are left undisturbed for hundreds of years. 

So Sampsa met with our partners on the ground in Peru: Dan Pearson and Brian Horsley of Marañón Chocolates. After a three hour drive to the farms, they are greeted by Edilberto Guevara, a Peruvian farmer who produces not only cacao but also coffee, chili, oranges, and other fruits.

Guevara has been on this plot for at least 40 years -- a veteran, one could say.  On his farm, the pods were ready for harvest, hanging from the trees waiting to be chopped off. Guevara swiftly plucked them off one by one and slit them in half to extract the beans, the famous white beans. 

Given that Guevara and his family are farmers primarily, not cacao producers, Pearson and Horsley buy the cacao beans from them in their natural state -- not dried. This allows them to get paid faster, and at a higher rate, while eliminating two weeks worth of additional work. Dan and Brian then facilitate the drying process to give us cacao beans ready for grinding and transforming into the chocolate.

Pearson and Horsley are as passionate about supporting farmers as we are, which is why they not only pay the farmers almost 50 % higher than the local market price, but they also invest in their training, tools, and even some no-interest loans.  The loans are essentially pre-payment for the beans and enable Guevara to expand his land holding.  

Guevera’s farm, set in this lush paradise, abstains from fertilizers and any chemical additives.  Rather than trashing the pods, they’re left on the ground to break down, adding to the soil’s richness and acting as a natural fertilizer for the trees. In fact, this yield is up by 20% without the use of fertilizers. The Guevaras have been farming on this plot of land for decades; while they eat the fruits themselves, their primary income comes from cacao and coffee. They’re fortunate to live in the Marañón Canyon where these trees grow organically and have for hundreds of years. We’re fortunate to have found them.

See the rest of the journey unfold on Instagram.

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