By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The cacao grown by Davao City-based Puentespina Farms, the manufacturer of award-winning Malagos Chocolates, has been recognized as “Heirloom Cacao” by a non-profit organization Heirloom Cacao Preservation (HCP) Fund based in the US.
Charita Puentespina, founder of Puentespina Farms, said their cacao grown in Calinan District located in Southern Philippines is the first in the country and the 16th in the world to hold such distinction, among them Bolivia, Ecuador, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Madagascar.
The announcement was made HCP, established by Fine Chocolate Industry Association and supported by the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services during a ceremony in San Francisco last January 12, 2019.
“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,” Puentespina said.
The Malagos chocolates are made from the Trinitario beans which has a complex, intense, long, and pleasant flavor typical of an heirloom variety.
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.”
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.”