aerial view of the Amazon river

Current Issue

Chocolate

Fall 2020​ | Volume XX, Number 1

Table of Contents

Editor’s Letter →

by June Carolyn Erlick

Flavors and Fortunes

What’s in a Chocolate Boom?

What’s in a Chocolate Boom?

English + Español
Peru has a longstanding reputation for its quality cacao. In the past decade, it has also attracted attention as a craft chocolate hot-spot with a tantalizingly long list of must-try makers. Indeed, from 2015 through 2019, a boom of more than 50 craft chocolate…

Divine Decadence or Business Turnaround?

Divine Decadence or Business Turnaround?

English + Español
Back in 2006, we became intrigued about a chocolate company in Venezuela. Rohit had done quite a bit of work on companies that were integrating country of origin into their product branding. He called it the Provenance Paradox. As Director of HBS’s Latin America…

Discovering the Taste of Molecules in Chocolate

Discovering the Taste of Molecules in Chocolate

English + Español
I’m a chemist. And you generally don’t think about chemistry when you have a delicious cup of chocolate. But I have studied the chemical composition of chocolate for 20 years and I would like to share what I have learned with you. For more than three decades…

The Resurgence of Brazilian Cacao and Chocolate

The Resurgence of Brazilian Cacao and Chocolate

English + Español + Português
October 2017. After an 11-hour flight from Brazil, I arrive at Heathrow Airport, London. The border officer—whom I can only describe as tall, strong and serious–carefully checks my passport and asks me the purpose of my visit: Business or pleasure? I thought for…

The Flow of History

Between America and Europe

Between America and Europe

On Tuesday, September 9, 1645, at 12 noon, the cocoa trader Antonio Méndez Chillón was arrested at his home in Veracruz (New Spain) by the Inquisition commissioner and charged with Jewish heresy. This episode, which was far from being isolated, helps shed…

Keeping the Heritage through a Museum

Keeping the Heritage through a Museum

English + Español
As an architect, I’ve been fascinated by museums and how the design of spaces can influence the experience of the visitor and the meaning of the objects within. Museums are not only repositories of valuable pieces preserved for posterity, but cultural elements…

Bittersweet Symphony

Bittersweet Symphony

English + Español
I’ve worked with chocolate for the last four years, but ironically, I only started drinking hot chocolate for breakfast a couple of weeks ago. My morning chocolate comes from our family plantation in the region of Quindío, Colombia, the country where I was born…

What is Mexican Chocolate? 

What is Mexican Chocolate? 

English + Español
What Champagne is to sparkling wine or Ethiopia to coffee, Mexico is to chocolate—a food-beverage product branded for its uniqueness, origin and quality, resulting in voluminous sales at premium prices to a dedicated consumer base…

A Culture of Cacao and Chocolate

A Culture of Cacao and Chocolate

English + Español
In the southern regions of Mesoamerica in what is today Mexico and Guatemala, the historical Lacandon and Manche Maya developed complex methods that produced what we now call “the chocolate triad,” referring to the associated planting of cacao…

Seeds of Gold, Local Entrepreneurs

Seeds of Gold, Local Entrepreneurs

Approaching Guayaquil in 1879 to assume his duties as French vice consul, Charles Wiener assessed the port city and nearby farms. “A tropical Holland,” he later declared. Guayaquileños have always taken Wiener’s remark as a well-deserved compliment, even if it might…

Xocoatl

Xocoatl

English + Español
Legend has it that the god Quetzalcóatl gave the Aztecs the cacao tree. Ambrosia or nourishment of the gods as its scientific name Theobroma Cacao indicates. Furthermore, cacao is where chocolate comes from. Both words, chocolate and cacao, come…

Social Justice, Gender and Race

Small (Labor) Truths 

Small (Labor) Truths 

In 2005, a company named Taza debuted a new way to do chocolate. The disc-shaped bars produced in their Somerville, Massachusetts factory were minimally processed from from ethically-sourced cacao and contained only ingredients that might…

A Food for the Goddesses

A Food for the Goddesses

Maya women were the artisans who invented a panoply of ancient beverages and sauces containing cacao. This association between cacao and women extended to an association with certain Maya goddesses. While originally introduced from South American, the…

Gendered Chocolate Mythologies

Gendered Chocolate Mythologies

In 1925, the cartoon figure of a portly white gentleman was created to advertise chocolates produced by the English firm of Rowntree & Co, which by this time operated a large factory on the outskirts of the city of York. Given the name “Plain Mr. York, of…

The Challenges of Sustainability and Covid-19

Cacao Creativity

Cacao Creativity

In a world where climate change is accelerating and concerns over environmental resources abound, the need for innovative, new solutions has never been greater. Enter fish scales, sugarcane, algae and cacao. A seemingly motley mix, they nonetheless have…

Chocolate in the Time of Covid-19

Chocolate in the Time of Covid-19

We at the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) are a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization dedicated to research and education on the fine cacao and chocolate industry. Usually, we spend our time investigating the cacao and chocolate industries…

Cocoa versus Cacao

Cocoa versus Cacao

One early morning in September 2017, I bought a bean tamale for two quetzals, equivalent to a U.S. quarter. The middle-aged vendor wore a multi-colored cloth skirt, snug above the waist and falling to mid-calf, and a knit mesh crop-top over a purple tank. Her skirt…

From Amazonia Coca to Cacao

From Amazonia Coca to Cacao

English + Español
It was a Saturday in March. After three hours, we were still traveling down the Huallaga River in a small wooden boat. The roar of the motor could be heard all the way along the route, as we watched the blue sky with its white cotton clouds, the deep green of the…

The Paradox of Chocolate Agrobiodiversity

The Paradox of Chocolate Agrobiodiversity

The agrobiodiversity of cacao has become increasingly appreciated at the same time it is most endangered. Smallholder farmers and indigenous growers of cultivated cacao and their landscapes containing wild cacao are particularly caught in these contradictory trends…

Book Talk

El jardín pandémico

El jardín pandémico

English + Español
Imagine the tranquility of a garden. With the aroma of flowers mixed in with the buzzing of bees and the contrast of shady trees against the fierce Paraguayan sun. From the intimacy of a family garden in which daily ritual leads one to water the plants, gather up the dry leaves…