Lifting the Curtain on Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate, Fino Arriba, Ecuador with Karla

In one of my frequent (too frequent) trips to Whole Foods, I noticed a new arrival. dark, organic, mysterious, fair trade, premium cacao, Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate from Ecuador.

Hoja verde

I asked the company for a sample and after it landed in my mailbox decided a proper introduction was in order.

Who could do that better than Karla, brand evangelist for Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate USA?

Here's my interview with Karla, fresh off the web.

Q: How far back can you trace the origins of Hoja Verde?

A: Hoja Verde is an Ecuadorian family owned company, established in 1997,founded as a producer of high quality Fair Trade certified roses .  In 2008, they qualified as the first Ecuadorian "Processor -Exporter" of Fair Trade single origin, natural, premium Dark Chocolate.

Q: What about the French Connection?  

A: Hoja Verde was established by a French family who immigrated to Ecuador. This  small-but-beautiful South American nation, possesses an abundance of love, passion  and quality of life  ... perfect to formulate Chocolate - especially from the highest quality cacao bean from Ecuador.  The "Arriba"
cacao has captivated chocolate connoisseurs with its depth of flavour and its unequalled aroma. Sweetness comes naturally.

Q: Roses and Chocolate tell me more?

A: The origin of the company stems from the Ecuadorian rose business (ie the" green leaves " of a rose). We know and understand the perish-ability of fine, fresh & delicate products. Plus, the reputation of Ecuadorian roses is the gold-standard of quality & distinctive color, size, life & smell of
the flower.

Q: When did Hoja Verde become available in the US?

A: Since 2008, Hoja Verde has been exporting this couture single-origin bar to other South American countries and with in a limited way in America. In 2009, it was decided to open offices in the USA - Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate USA - to supply the US market with the finest chocolate, maintaining the operation and know-how by the Ecuadorians in Ecuador from bean to bar to the chocolate-loving consumer.  This way, maintaining the integrity, quality and passion at the source w/ the Ecuadorian homeland & investing in the US market while returning profits to Ecuadorians.

Q: In which countries is Hoja Verde available?

A: Peru, Ecuador, USA ... the list will be growing soon

Q: How would you describe the area of Ecuador that Hoja Verde is coming from?

A: Hoja Verde Dark Chocolate is made from only premium cacao beans grown by farmers in the tropical lowlands of Ecuador (foothills of the Andes mountains), one of the planet's most biologically-diverse countries. These cacao beans are produced in small shaded plantations, thriving in the shadows of the rainforest's green leaves at farms implementing the conservation of natural resources standards. 

Shade-grown cacao farms, which border secondary rainforest, benefit from a wealth of nearby pollinators and agro-ecological conditions, which obviates the use of chemicals. Farmers cultivate their cacao beneath valuable rainforest trees, while also intermingling with a wealth of other crops, such as plantains, yucca, papaya, guava or lime, alongside their cacao. In the long term, this is better for both the farmer and the environment.

All the cacao beans come from this one rich region - called Arriba, which is a  special type of cacao .  The scientific name of this dark chocolate bean is called "Fino Arriba".  This cacao is exclusively found in Ecuador's tropical rainforest.  In fact, Ecuadorian cacao has long been recognized as one of the finest in the world.  You could parallel this to the "Champagne" region - where Cavas, Proseccos, Sparking Wines - cannot call themselves as Champagne because they do not come from that region.

As I mentioned earlier, your chocolates are all dark, from rich to richer.

Q: If the 58% was a word what would it be?

A: Tantalizing

Q: If the 72% was a movie which one?

A: "Cinema Paradiso"

     "As Good As It Gets"

Q: If the 80% was a song, title please?

A: "What a Wonderful World" or "Black Pearl"

Q: If the 100% was a woman, how would she be?

A: Sophisticated, Couture, Confident yet Sexy, Classy


One last question: For Valentine's Day which of the 4 Hoja Verde offerings would be best?

A: From my palate, I'd highly recommend the 80% with a nice bold wine to stir up some romance. The 80% delivers a well-rounded, full-bodied bouquet of fruits and flowers of the rainforest. 

Hoja Verde chocolate presents special fine and aromatic flavors, Arriba floral and citrus notes, balanced fruity taste and a robust cacao flavor. This will make a lasting impression on any loved-one.

On a health and nutrition note Karla wants you to know that since their bars go from dark to darker, with very high proportions of cacao and very little sugar added, you can lie back and indulge their unique flavor with confidence. They contain as many anti-oxidants as six apples or two glasses
of red wine.

As for my personal impressions

I had the chance and pleasure to sample both the 72% and the 80%.

I definitely vote for the 80%. Rich with a long finish, earthy, I would compare it or maybe even pair it with a nice Red Zinfandel.

Thanks to Karla for taking time out of her busy schedule for this impromptu Q and A.

Makes it Number 3 in our infrequent series of interviews and the opening act for 2010.

Previous Interview:
Mastering Cheese, the Bible for Cheese Lovers, a Few Party Tips, my Chat with Max McCalman

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