Puentespina Farms’ cacao earns another int’l distinction

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 16 January) – The cacao grown by Davao City-based Puentespina Farms, maker of award-winning Malagos Chocolates, has been recognized as “Heirloom Cacao” by the US-based non-profit organization Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) Fund.

Charita Puentespina, founder of Puentespina Farms, said in a statement that their cacao grown in Calinan District, Davao City is the only one in the country and the 16th in the world holding such distinction.

The others came from Bolivia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Tanzania and Madagascar.

Puentespina said the HCP, established by Fine Chocolate Industry Association and supported by the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services, made the announcement during a ceremony in the San Francisco last January 12.

“To become designated ‘heirloom cacao’ is an incredibly high standard to meet. Flavor-wise, there must be a balance, uniqueness, complexity and clarity all at once − a unique flavor profile that commands a premium in the world of fine foods,” she said.

She said their chocolates are made from the Trinitario beans, with complex, intense, long, and pleasant flavor, which is typical of an heirloom variety.

She said HCP panelists took note of their sample chocolate and chocolate liquor’s light color with mostly pleasant yet slightly astringent chocolate taste with a very herbal liquor flavor and fruit note.

She said the chocolate was also praised for its flavor notes and very smooth melt.

“The panel commented consistently on the low acidity and touch of fruits in the liquor,” she said.

Considered the “diamonds of cacao,” Puentespina said the heirloom cacaos are touted as the foundation of great chocolate and can only be accorded with such recognition because of their “historic, cultural, botanical, geographic, and flavor value.”

Malagos Chocolates has won 28 International awards since it started in 2003.

She said their beans underwent extensive evaluation by a nine-member tasting panel of chocolate experts from around the world.

“We submitted samples to the HCP and the process took nearly one year from the submission to the final certification,” she said.

Puentespina added HCP unites cacao farmers, chocolate makers, chocolate industry professionals and chocolate enthusiasts from around the world to save the fast-diminishing Theobroma cacao trees, which produce the most high-quality and flavorful chocolate, and the communities that continue to grow them.

“Sadly, they have become the victim of environmental change, deforestation and economic influences which have threatened the existence of fine, flavorful cacao,” she said.

She added: “Trees of rare cacao varieties continue to be felled to give way to pasturelands, and highly profitable but inferior-flavor clone species continue to be planted by farmers who have little choice but to produce more profitable crops.”

She said the organization intends to heirloom cacao varieties for the conservation of biological diversity and the empowerment of farming communities. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)