Updated: Apr 27, 2020
XOCO was founded in 2007 by Frank Homann with the purpose to create the best possible chocolate. They searched Central America for the most flavor-rich cocoa sort and found just 800 remaining Mayan Red trees. That`s how the largest replantation program the cocoa-industry has ever seen started, with more than one million new trees, distributed on their own farms in Nicaragua and with other farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.
The Mayan Red cacao is the company flagship variety because as Thomas Heilmann stated: "the flavor and the characteristics of this variety stand apart, and really amazed everyone on the sensory panel, as well as everyone we sent samples to". It is genetically unique to Honduras and it is distinguished by dark raisins, fruits, and honey palette notes.
He also pointed out to me how Jean-Paul Hévin, a french award-winning chocolatier, describes this amazing cacao bean:
"Mayan Red has a uniqueness when it is transformed into chocolate. It really has this fresh raspberry note, something delicate, round, and rather feminine. But still an aromatic strength".
XOCO also works with Tuma Yellow variety which was identified in 2007 in Northern Nicaragua. The fruit is green but turns yellow when it matures. It has an intense cocoa flavor with a light citrus taste, hints of nuts, floral notes and plenty of oil.
The distinctive trait of Xoco philosophy is to discards the “single-origin” cocoa descriptions replacing it with the “single-variety”, which provides a clear distinction between flavors and qualities. Their belief is to maximize the flavor potential by planting a single variety of beans on separate fields and controlling the entire process from tree to chocolate. It is clear we are talking about a "grower and chocolate producer".
T. H. explained that they "want to change cocoa and chocolate for the better. Not only the final product but also the value chain and the conditions of the farmers. By promoting and providing the single-variety approach, we can achieve two major improvements":
The "purest" tasting experience for the customer by separating and specializing in each specific variety of our production.
Enabling cacao growers to specialize their farming output, and promising them to buy their single variety supply. In this way, the farmers can compete on the quality rather the quantity, they are able to raise their income and leave the commoditized cocoa industry subject to significant global demand fluctuations which are very detrimental for them.
XOCO offers full traceability to the individual farmer: every batch is identified with a lot number and a QR code, that shows you the exact farmer from whom they collect cocoa beans.
XOCO beans had won international recognition and several awards including Cocoa Excellence, Academy of Chocolate awards, many golds, silver and bronze awards from the International Chocolate Awards, and several Great Taste awards.
I was given the opportunity to taste just one bar made with their cocoa beans: the Duffy`s HONDURAS INDIO ROJO 72%. Besides the lecithin, that bar gave me a good impression. You can read about my tasting experience on the dedicated post in my review section.