Attention chocoholics: it’s time to brush up on your Spanish and start searching for flights to South America because Ecuador is the official home of the world’s best chocolate brand. Known as Pacari, this premium boutique producer cleaned house at last year’s coveted International Chocolate Awards, earning gold across several different categories and silver or bronze in many more.
Part of the alluring London Chocolate Week, the International Chocolate Awards see a team of expert chocolate professionals undertake a blind taste test of premium blends from both large and small-scale producers from around the world. Despite its modest size, Pacari is known to dominate the event, having won first place in numerous categories for the last five years running.
Much of Ecuador’s sizable industry sees raw cocoa exported for chocolate production overseas. Pacari, on the other hand, revolutionized the market in 2002 by becoming the first local company to engage in tree-to-bar production. From humble early beginnings, the Quito based business now sources top-quality beans from over 3,500 Ecuadorian farming families.
But it’s not just the divine chocolate that will get those endorphins pumping, for Pacari strictly adhere to an ethical ethos to ensure consumers can feast (almost) entirely guilt-free.
Meaning “natural” in Quechua, Pacari strives for precisely that. Among other things, they claim to be the only chocolate producer in the world with a Demeter Biodynamic Certification. Essentially, biodynamic farming is similar to organic in that the land must have a self-regenerating ecosystem free of pesticides, chemicals, or fertilizers. When correctly implemented, the method maintains an ecological balance between plants, animals, humans, and soil.
Furthermore, the company promotes fair-trade practices by focusing on small-scale productions. Beans are sourced via direct trade with thousands of individual families who run sustainable micro-farming productions and are able to set their own rates. As part of the package, Pacari helps educate local farmers on efficient and environmentally friendly farming practices.
Sadly, Pacari is currently only available for direct purchase in Ecuador and Spain. However, the company plans to expand in the near future, and these recent prestigious awards will undoubtedly bolster such ambitions.
For now, chocoholics elsewhere in the world will have to be content with ordering off Amazon. Be sure to stock up big time, however, because we promise these addictive delights won’t last in your pantry for long.
If possible, opt for Tutu Iku, Lemon Verbena, and Los Ríos, which all won gold at last year’s event.