Ritual been out of our cacao from Ecuador for a while due to problems at the origin, but they finally managed to have cacao again, which means the bars was back. Current Ecuador bars are no longer considered “Balao” as the actual farm in the town of Balao was shut down. The company that used to operate that farm is still around, but now they buy cacao from other nearby farmers. As a way of maintaining quality and flavour, Vicente Norero, Camino Verde’s cacao manager, is still in charge of all the post-harvest fermentation and drying. So even though the cacao is coming from other farms, the flavour is almost identical to the old Balao as a result of similar fermentation and drying techniques.
The 2016 earthquake that devastated much of Ecuador jolted the country into turmoil. In order to fund the recovery of the country, the government was forced to raise the sales tax, income tax and property tax on large estates. As Camino Verde’s farm in Balao was above a certain threshold, the property tax soared to financial prohibitive levels. So in all this, the Balao farm was sold, which meant Camino Verde had to come up with another way to source cacao. Camino Verde’s flavour has always been, in a large part, due to their unique fermentation and drying techniques. So Vicente was confident that they could produce a similar quality by sourcing cacao from smaller farms (that weren’t hit by the same tax) and use the same post-harvest techniques.
The chocolate Ritual was able to produce with the new Camino Verde beans is extremely similar to their old “Balao” flavour. It’s still rich, fudgy, chocolatey and faintly floral with a bit of a honey high note. If you loved Ecuador bars, we think you’ll love this version.
We feel as chocolate sources that is it important to support the farmers our chocolate makers work with through these changes, be it from climate, politics or finances. We also want to be fully transparent with any changes to how or where our makers source our cacao and we are here to answer any more questions you may have.
Tasting Notes: Honey & Fudge.
Cacao Percentage: 85%
Cacao, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter
Davies and Stout spent about a year researching and testing different methods of chocolate making before they launched Ritual Chocolate in Denver, eight years ago. They started with one bar and slowly added more over time. Now, they have 13 bars and make everyone at their shop on Iron Horse Drive.