Caribeans chocolate forest experience
- Guided tour through cacao forest
- Chocolate pairing and tasting
- Learn the entire chocolate making process from the tree to bar
- Location : Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo
- Hours : Mondays 10 a.m.; Tuesdays & Thursdays 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.; Fridays & Saturdays 2 p.m.
- Time length : 3 hours
- Price : $26
Like a fine wine, each batch of chocolate has its own vintage at Caribeans in Puerto Viejo. Join Owners Jeff and Paul for the future of tree-to-bar, micro batch chocolate on a tour of their cacao farm in the hills above Playa Cocles. Enjoy a chocolate tasting of selected chocolates from the region's cacao producers while learning how to make the world's most popular candy.read more close
On the cacao farm
From the base camp at the Dreadnut coffee shop in Playa Cocles, Jeff and Paul lead the tours down a back road behind the café to their 15-acre traditional heirloom cacao farm. The farm is part of an 80-year old cacao forest that was abandoned by large-scale cacao producers back in the 1970s when a fungus attacked the fruit. Jeff and Paul, in conjunction with seasoned local cacao farmers, have restored the farm to a fully-functional cacao producer with more than a thousand trees.
Walk through the farm and learn about how cacao is grown, maintained and harvested while tasting raw cacao beans. Near the top of the hill, your guide will demonstrate how cacao is fermented and dried using a modified version of methods developed when Native Americans first made chocolate.
Afterwards, you'll head up to the tasting center, an outdoor pavilion with fantastic views stretching from Manzanillo all the way to Panama. Guides present a series of locally-produced chocolates using cacao from nearby farms and show you how to conduct a tasting: break the chocolate close to your ear and listen for the snap, smell it and finally taste it before it melts in your hand. Much like a wine vintage, you'll find each piece of chocolate has its own unique flavors.
More chocolate is then set out with a variety of raw ingredients like vanilla extract, basil, coffee, curry, black pepper, garlic and ginger. Guides encourage you to invent a flavor, testing how the ingredients combine and influence the flavors of other chocolates.
From bean to bar
The final act of the tour takes you to the chocolate laboratory where your guide explains how Caribeans makes its own chocolate using only two ingredients: cacao and sugar. After the beans have dried, they're roasted in a coffee roaster. The beans are then thrown into a melanger, a machine that slowly smashes the beans, releasing the cacao butter and mixing it with sugar to make a smooth, silky concoction. The final step in making chocolate bars is to temper the chocolate by spreading the mix over a cool surface to form crystals and solidify the chocolate into bars.
The tour concludes with a walk back to the café where you can buy Caribeans chocolate bars at a 10 percent discount.
Departure & Return
- Departure point : Tour departs from all major hotels in Cahuita, Puerto Viejo Limon, Cocles, Punta Uva and Manzanillo
- Departure time : Hotel pickup is between 20 and 50 minutes before tour start time depending on hotel location.
- Return details : Tour returns to original departure point between three and four hours after tour start time