Long known for producing some of the world’s finest cocoa beans, Ecuador’s newest export created for American chocolate lovers is Aequare Fine Chocolates, the first chocolatier to export world-class confections into the U.S. made almost entirely from ingredients and materials produced in the country of origin.
Founded by native Californian, classically trained chef and now Ecuadorian resident, Jeff Stern, Aequare creates origin-specific chocolate confections made from ingredients and raw materials sourced virtually entirely within Ecuador, from raw ingredients all the way to packaging. The only exceptions are ingredients such as vanilla beans, which are not commercially grown or produced in Ecuador.
This distinction of “origin chocolate confections” is important since virtually all other premium chocolate confections imported into the US are made with ingredients sourced from all over the world: beans from West Africa, sugar from Costa Rica, vanilla from Madagascar, dairy from the U.S., and fruit purees from Europe, then manufactured in the U.S.
“Living and working in Ecuador makes it easy for me to access the local ingredients and develop personal relationships with many of our suppliers, giving me invaluable, first-hand experience with their growing and manufacturing processes,” said Stern. “I call this process ‘direct trade,’ enabling me to make regular visits to cacao farm in the Los Rios province, for example."
Integral to Aequare’s mission is the way in which it supports Ecuadorian companies, demonstrating ethical sourcing practices that keep as much of the added value in the local Ecuadorian economy.
Aequare (aequarechocolates.com) specializes in producing classic French-style bonbons, beautifully decorated and finished using colored transfers and textures. Aequare also produces plain and flavored chocolate bars, and only uses pure, natural flavors without any artificial flavorings or preservatives.
Some of the Aequare traditional and exotic flavors include plain dark chocolate, vanilla, passion fruit, ishpingo (the flower of a local tree), lemongrass, saffron, blackberry and more.