Chocolate Tour
Central America, Information, Photography, Travel

Chocolate – Breakfast of Champions

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Kim is deep in concentration trying to retain everything. They are hoping to start their own chocolate production soon!

Yes, there seems to be a pattern here. I seem to post multiple posts on either tacos al pastor or chocolate. Can you blame me? We found ourselves on a chocolate tour in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Seeing the process from start to finish was nothing like I expected. Hell, I didn’t even know chocolate grew on trees. Seriously.

It was time to be educated on one of the things I hold dearest to my heart – chocolate.

We found ourselves starting the tour at about 8am – before loads of people started lining up for the personal tour. At $25 a pop I was glad to get a more personal explanation of the process… oh, and all you can eat chocolate.

So these are what the plants look like on the tree. The flowers all over the bark turn into the cocoa fruits. If you’re lucky you can avoid fungi that destroys trees and the fruit turns brown.

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This is the inside of the fruit. You have to beat it against a wall or a tree pretty damn hard to open it. The fruit inside is slimy, sweet, tangy and tart. The “seed” is what is made into chocolate. I carried one around with me for about an hour as I destroyed the contents. Best. Fruit. Ever.

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Good fruit vs. Bad fruit

This is Shaun, Kim and Barry (Destination CR) listening to our awesome guide discussing the various plants found naturally in the rainforest.

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The fruit is removed from the shell and fermented for 6 days to get rid of the fruit on the outside and take away some bitterness (and the juice is used for a local rum).

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The seeds are then dried in the sun for an additional 6 days.

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The beans are then roasted in a wok looking thing over a fire.

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They are manually ground (and it is a pain in the ass) and reroasted a wee bit. You can boil it again to remove some cocoa oil/butter and this allows the chocolate to be melted. They didn’t boil it during the tour but I had no clue that is how they did it!

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They give it another quick roast for good measure.

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For milk chocolate they add equal parts (to chocolate) dehydrated milk and sugar and to add a bit of sweetness a shot or two of condensed milk.

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ChocolateTour-15It is all mixed together until it is well blended. They rolled it out for us and we took pieces of this rawer form of chocolate. It was like fudge it was so rich. I ate two pieces. Shaun, Barry and Kim ate my share and some. 😛

At least if I was stranded on a desert island with a whole bunch of cocoa trees I will know how to keep myself fed and happy.

70 thoughts on “Chocolate – Breakfast of Champions”

  1. Love the photo essay that guide you through the process. I didn’t know it grow on the tree until I went on a tour in Dominican Republic too. Isn’t it so amazing you always learn new things when you travel? 🙂

  2. That is so interesting. I never knew that is what chocolate looks like in its unprocessed form. Does that mean I can use the excuse that I’m eating my vegies when I dig in to a block of chocolate? 🙂

  3. Awesome post. I’m very interested in chocolate production. I really want to see an indigenous chocolate industry start in Cote d’Ivoire. Right now, they produce about 40% of the world’s cocoa, but it’s all for export and no actual chocolate is produced there. Someone needs to get on that. Just need some start-up money 😉 I need to go on a tour like this. Your photos are a good substitute for now, though 🙂

    1. @Phil: Thank you! I bet you anything that some of the companies in Costa Rica buy some of their beans. I know that they can’t keep up with demand and do it sometimes. Good luck with that endeavor. It is an easy process but the investment time is a few years.

  4. Wow Erica I could really do with some chocolate after reading this! I LOVE chocolate – mostly eating it, but reading about it is good too ;o)

  5. So interesting! I had no idea that the pods were so large or that there was fruit in them…I just thought it was the seeds. I feel like I’m going to have new-found respect for chocolate now that I know how much work goes into the whole process.

    1. @Emily: I was honestly just happy with the fruit but OH MAN, knowing I was getting chocolate AND caffeine from it was awesome. I loved the tour – learning things like this is fascinating. It probably started with my obsession with Mr. Rogers and seeing how things were made to be honest.

  6. Hi–I agree with the previous comments and think your images really tell the story and help us visualize! Thanks for sharing. Will look out for the taco 101 too 🙂 haha.

  7. Your images turned out great! We are roasting our new batch of cacao today. We also changed our site due to your pay-worthy advice!
    You are welcome back anytime.

    Kim Y Barry

  8. Chocolate and rum from the same plant? What a winner! Excellent photos of the entire process, I’m excited to get the opportunity to try this myself in the future 🙂

  9. I have to agree with Patricia, Chocolate & Rum from the same plant?!? SCORE! Sounds like a great tour, I’d love to go on a chocolate tour while I’m there! Great post!

  10. While I was reading this, I did a quick survey in my mind of what chocolate products I have in my house. I am now craving chocolate and have realized there is none to be found. Thanks. xx

  11. Yummmm!!! I wish I had done a tour like this when I was in Costa Rica. I never knew the process for making chocolate either, so this was really cool for me–I love the step-by-step photos! The fruit looks nothing like chocolate, so whoever originally came up with that process is pretty genius.

  12. I’m not lying when I say I don’t care much for chocolate, but this was really interesting. PS. Photography is looking more impressive all the time!

    1. @Alison: I was so happy we took this tour. I’m all about educational things like this where it blows my mind to think that I am eating a fruit! 😀

  13. Amazing post; love the pictures.

    But… My heart sank when I saw that you did this in Puerto Viejo– I was just there and had no idea this existed. Had I read your post before my trip, I would’ve done it in a heartbeat. On the flip side, I can just add this chocolate tour to the long list of excuses to go back asap! 🙂

    1. AWWW! The only reason I knew it was there was because our friends Kim and Barry drove us out there after hearing about it. It was probably my favorite of the two chocolate tours we took.

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