In the craft chocolate world, Peru is known for its long and rich history of cacao production and consumption, as well as the robust flavor portfolio of its cacao due to the diversity in Peru’s range of growing conditions.
Across Peru’s 14 cacao-producing regions, genetic studies have revealed a surprising diversity of cacao varieties—each of which thrives in different microclimates spanning from the semi-tropical coast to cloud forests to lowland rainforest. One region, in particular, has proved to be particularly magnetic: Cusco.
Cusco’s native Chuncho cacao has sent ripples throughout the craft chocolate world for its low bitterness and range of flavor profiles. From notes of nut and spice to fresh and dried fruit flavors to floral undertones, the prized Chuncho is a chocolate maker’s dream.
Its sensorial complexity is even more captivating considering recent genetic evidence suggesting that the Chuncho variety is the origin of cacao’s biodiversity, worldwide. Because of its complex DNA, Chuncho cacao is one of the purest and most concentrated forms, which makes for complex and profound flavors.
The heart of the Chuncho cacao’s historic production is in La Convención, the northernmost province in Cusco. When exploring Chuncho cacao plantations today, it is not uncommon to come across cacao trees that are over 100 years old with their thick and gnarled trunks that are truly magnificent.
The golden yellow Chuncho pods come in diverse shapes, sizes, and textures—almost as diverse as the flavors of the beans that lie within. The cacao farmer and chocolate maker work as a team to coax out these flavors to develop one-of-a-kind chocolate bars for chocolate connoisseurs.