Earlier this year the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) announced that the cocoa trees of BFREE Demonstration Cacao Farm, Belize; San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua and Pham Thanh Cong, Mekong Delta, Vietnam had been designated as ‘Heirloom.’ They became the 11th, 12th and 13th HCP Heirloom designations made since the 2014.
The HCP’s international tasting panel said it loves the Belize heirloom’s “smooth, mild chocolate flavour with a lightly roasted nut base reminding them of macadamia nuts.”
The flavour of the Nicaragua heirloom cacao is “an immediate burst of a fresh fruit salad – beginning with an evanescent brown fruit such as dates and figs, shifting to a red fruit and mixed tropical fruit character with ripe plums, berries, red currant accompanied by a fruit bowl of mango, apricot and pineapple.” For the Vietnam heirloom there is “a coconut note accompanied by a dried fruit and spice character that is cinnamon and cardamom.” Specific notes can be found on each of the Heirlooms’ pages.
“Flavourless high-yielding trees are not the only option in the fight against the global degradation of cacao,” said Gary Guittard, President of the Guittard Chocolate Company. “Numerous specialty chocolate manufacturers and chocolatiers whose livelihood depends on fine-flavour cocoa have come together to work with local farmers on every continent to preserve heirloom cacao. That’s what the HCP supports.”
The HCP says it is concerned that many important cacaos are facing extinction. “As the industry continues to replace fine flavour cacao trees with bland hybrids and clones, a world of boring monochromatic chocolate dominates,” it says. “The HCP seeks to protect, preserve, and propagate the finest, richest, most complex forms in the chocolate universe for future generations.”
Launched by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association in 2012, the HCP attempts to connect flavour traits to genetics, rewarding growers and working with world’s foremost flavour experts and geneticists to save Heirloom cacao from extinction.