Sure Quito is home to 500-year-old church or two, though most don’t realize it’s also one of the centers of the world’s chocolate industry. Ecuador’s Arriba Nacional cacao bean is the most sought after the world over and Quito chocolate shops, cafes, and activities have become a point of reference for chocolate lovers:
The Pure Nacional cacao bean, supposedly indigenous to Ecuador and wiped out due to disease a century ago, and was apparently rediscovered recently in northern Peru’s Maranon Canyon. As TastingTable clearly shows and the New York Times reports, American chocolatier Moonstruck has already released a Pure Nacional single origin chocolate bar (68% cacao), called Fortunato No. 4, as well as chocolate covered beans.
On a trip to Ecuador, Native Californian and French-trained Chef Jeff Stern discovered the quality of Ecuadorian cocoa. Soon after he relocated to Quito and, after importing equipment from North America and meeting with cocoa growers he launched Aequare Chocolates. The company produces extremely high quality, small batch, single origin chocolate bars and French-style bonbons in flavors like vanilla, passion fruit, Amazon-ishpingo, lemongrass, saffron, citron, and blackberry cobbler. Stern, a former employee of USAID, works closely with local farmers to source all of his ingredients locally and giving back to the community. Aequare is the only chocolatier exporting to the U.S. who sources ingredients and manufactures entirely in the country of origin.