Original Beans recently discovered an array of rare cacao varietals in the heights of Chuncho. Located in the region of Machu Picchu, an astonishing Citadel built by the Inca Empire, the old and sturdy cacao trees of Chuncho grow on the slopes of the Andes mountains in an altitude that is nearly unheard of for growing cacao. It is the home of the mighty, endangered Condor, the largest flying bird in the world.
The Chuncho cacaos that can be found in Cusco, Junín and Ayacucho, are a range of different varieties rather than a homogenous group.
They have been identified as native Peruvian cacaos and are genetically part of the big “Forastero del Alto Amazonas” group. But scientific research is still ongoing.
The cacao fruits are small and so are the beans (less than 1 g per bean) – but they are also very substantial as they are known for their high fat content. The Chuncho cacao has hardly ever been used pure in Chocolate, because it is mostly mixed with hybrids. Our 100% Cusco Chuncho bar is a real rarity.
Original Beans is working to preserve the diversity and purity of the Chuncho cacao varietals. Through optimized post-harvest handling and direct trade with Original Beans, the local smallholders can charge high premium prices for their excellent cacao.
On the ground, we:
- Support the preservation and propagation of Chuncho cacao varietals through identification, screening and genetic research of cacao trees in the Chuncho area
- Support planting and management of cacao clonal gardens
- Support establishment of nurseries to produce and distribute Chuncho cacao seedlings
- Support planting of cacao-forests with selected Chuncho varieties
- Provide training in post-harvest handling and quality control
- Help farmers achieve organic certification