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  • Writer's pictureJodelle Marx

Costa Rican Chocolate

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Don Juan Chocolate Tour

January 2022 | Costa Rica


Whether your trip to Costa Rica is five days or five weeks, you must go on a chocolate tour.

My hostel owner advised booking at Don Juan Tours and I was not disappointed. The tour was full of history, humor, and chocolate. We even got to make our own chocolate at the end!

Here are a few things that I learned:

Caption: Cacao trees are pollinated by mosquitos! Think twice before you swat that next mosquito.

In the 1970s, a fungus wiped out 80% of Costa Rica's cacao trees. Until then, cacao was the country's main export.

Eventually, farmers developed a variety of trees that could withstand the fungus. Now, different varieties are grafted together to grow trees that are low to the ground, hardy, and produce more fruit.

Caption: (left) grafting; (center) cacao fruit; (right) cacao seeds.

Fruits change color from purple or white (depending on variety), to yellow and red when they are ripe. Sometimes when trees are cross pollinated, the ripe fruit is a combination of colors.

Each seed has a slimy sugary coating. Monkeys suck the sweet coating off and spit out the bitter cacao seed.

Caption: A cacao seed broken open, exposing the dark cacao nibs.

The seeds are dried or roasted and broken open to access the cacao nibs. Cocoa powder and cocoa butter are derived from the cacao nibs.

Caption: chocolate samples at the end of the tour.

Much of the cocoa butter produced today is sold to cosmetic companies. Now, if you're like me, you're wondering, "Can I swap out mud masks for chocolate sauce?"

With the butter going to cosmetic companies, only high quality chocolate contains cocoa butter–I personally prefer eating my expensive chocolate.


Updated on July 27, 2022




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