Location: Urubamba Valley, Cusco
Tasting Notes: Passionfruit, Red berries, Sweet basil
Varieties: Chunco and Natiive Criollos
Fermentation Style: TBD
Drying Style: TBD
Elevation: 400 - 1200 meters
Harvest Season: Main Harvest April- July
The Chuncho beans come mainly from the Cuzco department and are harvested at altitudes that range from about 400m to 1200m above sea level. Chuncho is native to Cuzco department (and some to the VRAE region) and has been classified as its own genetic variety… however please note that there are many Chunchos. As of right now there seems to be 7 classifications for Chuncho, but many more suspected of falling under the “Chuncho umbrella” are being analyzed and we believe in the near future their will be a few more identified Chuncho varieties.
From an academic perspective Chuncho is very sought after, mainly because of its genetic isolation it has had in this region. University of Urubamba is doing these studies. It typically has a high diverse fruit flavour profile, higher % of fat than usual, and lower % of tannins. They tend to be a smaller pod and smaller bean, however there are Chunchos that are bigger also. With this said, the cacao pods also vary in size and in colour. They tend to be small… but some are bigger. And colours of pods vary between yellow, green and rose.
Historically (going back hundreds of years to pre colonizing times), Cuzco has been the region that has had the highest production of cacao in Peru. After colonization and commercialization of cacao in the Jungle departments (north of Peru: Amazonas, San Martin, Huánuco), Cuzco has falling in the production scale compared to the other departments (mainly because the other departments have scaled up dramatically their productions [as an alternative to coca plant harvesting]). The zone in Cuzco where cacao was traditionally from is the Urubamba valley… a very special valley. This is the main valley where the Incas would come from the Andes to reach the jungle.. this was their route into the jungle. It was also where they would meet the natives of the jungle for trade purposes. (This is also the Valley where the last Incan emperor (Manco Inca) fled to and hid when the conquistadors invaded Peru).
We work directly with a cooperative of Urubamba valley… we have been working with this cooperative for a long time (many years). They are very established, have a good relationship with their farming members… and now also have a chocolate making branch. We (Amazon Specialties) helped them develop this chocolate making branch…we provided them the know-how, and also provided Premier refiners. Their chocolate program has grown…they now have 3 refiners of 4.5kg, and 1 of 10kg, and are producing chocolate that is getting better and better. You have to understand, that this is very very rare in Peru. A co-operative in the middle of the jungle, pushing forward with their farmer-members to not only be producers of cacao but also chocolate makers. They have become trail blazers. This co-operative is one that has the most influence in Cuzco, and this movement has sprouted many others in the region to also become chocolate makers. (Fun side note: in 2019, during the International Chocolate Awards, Aurelio was a judge, and he actually recognized the chocolate from this co-operative when judging).
We are very happy for this growth and direction. As more producers become chocolate makers, they will be automatically bridging the gap – and will ultimately understand how their harvesting and fermenting and drying processes affect their quality in chocolate making. And thus, ultimately providing better cacao for other chocolate makers around the world.
The chocolate program also has the potential to make the farmers more money, and thus bring them additional revenue stream, contributing to a more sustainable way of life. It is doing exactly this… there are a few cacao producers in Cuzco that now have their own chocolate brand and a brick-and-mortar store. One is in the middle of the main plaza in Cuzco city!! This type of added value to their products will help them come out of poverty. (Another Fun Side Note: Amazon Specialties has provided (sold or gifted) more than 40 Premier Refiners to various co-ops and farmers in this area. More than 300 nation-wide. We want Peru to not just be a cacao producing country, but also a chocolate producing country).