Location: Piura and Ayabaca provinces
Tasting Notes: Malt , Sugar cane, Nutty
Varieties: Native Criollos with ~30% white beans
Fermentation Style: Wooden Boxes
Drying Style: Sun dried, shade finished
Elevation: 50 - 400 m
Harvest Season: Main Harvest Feb - May , Minor harvest Sept. - Nov.
About Piura White
The Piura White beans come from the Piura department, situated in the north desert coast of Peru. The cacao comes from the Cooperativa Agraria Norandino which is made up of a few hundred small-holder farming members and specifically comes from the Piura and Ayabaca provinces, specifically from the following districts: Las Lomas, Tambogrande, Montero, Paimas, Suyo. The beans are harvested at altitudes that range from about 50m to 400 meters above sea level. Genetically they are a mix of native criollos and are typically ~30% white beans.
This origin has historically been (prior to the colonization of Peru) a prized and valued cacao. Since the colonization in the 15th and 16th century, there are documents from the Spaniards detailing this cacao variety and this region as an origin for premium cacao.
The region is extremely unique for cacao in general. Typical cacao trees grow in tropical/jungle climates…. However, in Piura, this is not the case. Piura is a desert. It is dry, arid, and completely different soil than that found in the jungle. Usually in Peru the jungle is separated from the desert coast by the mountain ridge of the Andes, however in north of Peru there is a small section where the mountains are low, allowing the amazon jungle to flirt directly with the desert coast. This geographic shallow mountain pass is called “Paso de Porculla” – the lowest point in the Andes (2137 meters above sea level).
Much of the theories today supported by Bioversity International are that cacaos in Central America/Mexico probably came from Peru as trade with the coastal communities which obtained their merchandize from internal trade with the Mayo-Chinchipe-Marañon jungle culture or a previous culture that lived in that area. The use of cacao as commercialization and trade is estimated to be at least 5000 years old. Ceramic bowl artifacts dated to ~5000 years in the Mayo-Chinchipe-Marañon jungle culture have been found to have cacao genetic remnants. In the same culture they have found seashells and other artifacts that are only found in the coast… supporting the theory that there was trade with the coast dated to thousands of years ago. They would originally trade with the coast of Peru by traveling through the ‘Paso de Porculla’ bringing with them many products found in the jungle…including multiple varieties of cacao. Over thousands of years, it is believed that the cacao tree variety in the Piura region adapted from various trials of natives trying to cultivate the different cacao varieties found in the jungle.
The tannins in the Piura region cacaos are lower than typical, because the cacao tree does not have to have high tannins as a defense mechanism against predators – like it does in the jungle. This Piura cacao varieties have drastically adapted to the dry coast characteristics and can survive with lower humidity and much lower volumes of water than usual. Interestingly enough – Piura region cacao trees will not survive when planted in the jungle regions…. They are not capable of adapting to the increased humidity and water (and the diseases that come with higher humidity (like witch’s broom and others)).