The Ecuador CCN-51
80 years of experience. That is how much time Diego's family has been in the cacao industry. Diego and his family have decades of experience in cacao and they also started to grow bananas during the big banana boom. Cacao runs deep in their blood and family business and they skillfully cultivate high quality cacao.
Diego is the grandson of Homero Castro, the man who invented the hybrid CCN-51 cacao variety. When Ecuador was hit with witches broom, a diseases that ravaged the cacao industry, farmers were losing everything. Homero Castro created a hybrid, a cross combination of various cacao varieties. It took him 51 tries to get it right. He named the bean after himself and his hometown and how long it took to get it right, Colleccion Castro Naranjal 51 (CCN-51).
CCN-51 is a controversial bean variety. At first the bean had a very overpowering flavor and required a specific fermentation process to bring down its potency. Fine chocolate makers criticize the bean's flavor and are typically against the use and cultivation of it. The flip side is, the CCN-51 in many ways saved the industry in Ecuador. The CCN-51 is a very resilient variety, it is extremely resistant to disease and pests and climate change. The bean also produces more than other varieties. Over the years the flavor has improved as well and the aroma is fantastic. So now you have a variety that is resilient to climate, disease, pests, and produces a solid flavor and aroma!
Homero knew that farmers hold the most risk in the cacao supply chain. When Ecuador was ravaged by witches broom (a disease that attacks cacao) and almost collapsed, importers just went to Africa and elsewhere. Farmers can't just pivot, if they lose their crop they lose everything. A more resilient bean means less risk. It means more security for their livelihoods.
The renown Ecuador Nacional is the nation's signature variety and is now hard to find due to disease. We support the cultivation of this traditional bean as well. Many farmers currently produce both. The CCN-51 is like an insurance crop for them. They can have a secure harvest with the CCN-51 and still produce the renown Ecuador Nacional as well.
We import beans from the CCN-51 variety and we turn it into our single origin cacao brew. We are keenly interested helping and supporting efforts to remove risk from farmers. Removing risk means improving crops, improving cultivation methods, ensuring direct trade, and a clean supply chain. The flavor of CCN-51 we think is delightful, smooth, flowery, with a hint of vanilla nut. Our customers have expressed their love for it in their many positive reviews!
The CCN-51 is just one of the current efforts to give farmers a way to lessen their risk in the trade. We are excited to continue to support, identify, and promote more ways to support farmers as we grow.