The legend of Arriba
An old legend tells how a Swiss chocolate-maker set out on a journey along the Ecuadorian coast in the 19th century. When he found himself on the Guayas River, he marveled at the wonderful smell of cocoa, which was carried along the river by a group of local farmers. When asked where this cocoa came from, he received brief answers “rio arriba!”, literally “up the river”, upstream. Since then, cocoa from this area, ie. the fertile lowlands of western Ecuador, has become a sought-after raw material in European chocolate circles, and the name Arriba has been adopted for it.
Ecuador and Arriba
Ecuatorian cocoa is referred to as Arriba, Cacao Fino y de Aroma or Cacao Nacional.
Ecuador is a small South American country stretching around the equator line from the Pacific Ocean through the mountainous Andes to the Amazon rainforest. The geographical location guarantees plenty of sunshine throughout the year and rich sources of clean mountain water, which allows to grow cocoa in various varieties.
Arriba belongs to the Forastero group by species, and although Forastero is often represented by industrial cocoa, Arriba is unique in this group, characterized by high quality and exceptional aroma and taste. Arriba is grown by almost one hundred thousand family farms, of which 99% are small growers with a land area of less than 10 hectares. They all contribute to making Ecuador the world leader in this cocoa variety.
All manufacturers protect the uniqueness of this product and follow strict procedures that ensure high quality. These are, for example, seed selection, cultivation methods, harvesting, post-harvest operations or storage.
The quality of this cocoa has become a state agricultural policy under the responsibility of the Ecuadorian Agricultural Quality Agency – Agencia Ecuatoriana de Aseguramiento de la Calidad del Agro (AGROCALIDAD). This is also why Arriba cocoa is a world-renowned product and enjoys great popularity.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture has launched initiatives aimed at further raising awareness of the high quality of local cocoa, maintaining its reputation through quality inspections and certifications, and further increasing the productivity and profitability of growers. The long-term goal is then to gain and maintain Ecuador’s reputation as the best cocoa producer in the world.