Had a three hour tour of a cacao and chocolate making operation in Puerto Viejo. A couple from Florida looking to retire and rent out some cabins bought property, met up with coffee shop owner that tried roasting cacao and then taught himself to make artisan chocolate and a new business began. They make 72% cacao chocolate with a little sugar cane and cocoa butter. They are making an effort to bring more artisan makers to the area to keep the profits in the country. Nice family and treat their workers very well.
The name “Mango Walk” comes from the local slang. A “walk” is a set, series or group of something, in this case, mango trees which line the hill the farm is perched on. The mango trees have gotten too tall to harvest in any reasonable way so they are left to fall to the ground for the critters to eat.
Here’s Jeff – it’s his operation and the whole thing kinda of came up by accident. One of his surfer buddies suggested he buy this old farm because it was cheap and had an ocean view. He came here, over 10 years built a hut, then a house and by accident ran into a guy playing with cacao beans and here he had an abandoned cacao plantaition… They seem like good people, well organized, doing going things locally and you certainly can’t fault the quality of their product because it is indeed quite good.
We tasted cocoa beans from the tree. High in antioxidants covered in sweet slime and bitter bean. The slimy bits are sweet, the beans are slightly bitter. I was surprised at how good the raw beans are.
The beans are fermented and then dried.
Here we are at the hilltop tasting room. You may wish to ask for the chairlift to the top and the use of the waterslide to get back down.
Watch out for poisonous snakes. They are filled with poison and they don’t like you. We are told that the spider monsters are scary looking but harmless.
Given how much work it is to just walk up the hill it’s quite impressive how much work they’ve put into the place. Gringos are clearly crazy people.
Yes the tasting was the highlight of the walk uphill to the farm in the heat and high humidity. But we did see some sloths and red frogs on the way.
They’ve named their roaster “Frankenstein”.
Here’s what you get after roasting and grinding. We’re not going to show you the machine that separates the nibs from the chaff BECAUSE IT’S TOO CRAZY!
Roasting and shelling..tastes good even now
72 hours in the smoosher-upper and then it’s ready for some more manual labor. We tasted this stuff and it is indeed supergood.
And there you have it..wrap it up and sell it.