At Conexión, we produce chocolate exclusively with “fine or flavour” Arriba Naciónal cacao beans from Ecuador. Fine or flavour cocoa accounts for only 5% of the world’s production of chocolate, but it is all we use. Arriba is prized worldwide for its complexity, intensity, and balance. There has been a concerted effort in the chocolate industry in recent years to cut corners and increase yields in cacao production using GMO cacao. We are steadfast in our opposition to this movement! We will only use heirloom Arriba cacao and we work directly with Ecuador’s farmers to help restore and preserve this national (indeed terrestrial!) treasure.
Our chocolate begins and ends with Ecuador. We work with individual farmers in specific regions in selecting the best cacao beans in order to capture the purity, aroma, and taste of each area.
Jenny Samaniego founded Conexion Chocolate after nearly 10 years in the industry believing it was possible to produce an exquisite, high-end chocolate in the country of origin. What better place to do this than her home country of Ecuador, birthplace of the famed Arriba Nacional heirloom cacao beans. Jenny is one of the only women in the heavily male dominated world of bean-to-bar chocolate company founders, making Virgin (minimally processed) and couverture chocolate.
Jenny first moved to the United States in 2005 for a cultural exchange program in West Palm Beach, Florida for a few years. Shortly after moving to NYC, she starting working in the world of chocolate in 2008, for well-known chocolate companies. Since then she has worked in many areas of the chocolate industry – production, sales, and founding the sourcing company Cocoa Provisions to name a few – and she has learned the needs of everyone along the way.
In 2013, Jenny started making Ecuadorian Couverture under the company name Chukulat. Three years later, Jenny returned home to expand her offerings and take an even larger hands-on role in production at origin. That is when she decided to re-brand as “Conexion” – to help make the connection between local cacao farmers and consumers of fine Ecuadorian chocolate throughout the world. Through this connection, we empower small family farms. By keeping our chocolate production in the country of origin, we add value to the local economy. Not long after launching Conexion Chocolate, it won four awards from the Academy of Chocolate and the International Chocolate Awards in 2017.
We partner directly with cocoa farmers to strengthen their valuable contributions to sustainable agriculture, and to guarantee the cacao beans’ source to our customers, while using Organic and Fair Trade Certified cacao beans.
Organic practices. Paying farmers fair prices. Land conservation and rehabilitation. Preserving Arriba Nacional heirloom cacao. Promoting biodiversity. Empowering women. Involving youth. Strengthening communities. Offering education & technical training. Supporting over 2,000 small family farms! Direct Trade & Traceability. Connecting growers with consumers through Origin Tours.
Arriba Nacional Cacao
Once thought to be a member of the “forestero” type, Arriba Nacional has recently been recategorized as its own unique genetic type. Arriba joins Criollo and Trinitario varieties in the upper echelons of “fine or flavor” cacao. Indeed, it is a treasured varietal that only develops its full flavor and aromatics capabilities in its home country of Ecuador, despite efforts by some to grow it elsewhere in the world.
Within this singular variety, you will find differences in flavor and aroma depending on where in Ecuador the Arriba was grown. Just like wine or coffee, the terroir of cacao beans offers nuanced differences brought on by climate, elevation, soil type, rainfall, average temperature, etc. For example, the strong floral notes of Arriba from Manabi are more muted in Esmeraldas, where more nutty notes are highlighted.
This delicate fruit with mighty flavor has been through a lot in the last five millennia. Arguably the world’s first cultivated cacao, Arriba was nearly wiped out completely a few times in the last century. With your support, we are helping to preserve the genetic diversity of cacao by continuing to plant and cultivate this irreplaceable crop.
When it comes to food, the most sustainable choice is often the most delicious!