Yesterday evening I arrived in the the cloudy mountains of Mindo.
The first thing I wanted to do here, was go on the chocolate tour at El Quetzal de Mindo, where they grown cocoa beans, and have a small factory to produce bars of chocolate.
In my last post, I said that I don’t do tours, but this one included eating a brownie in a cafe. The tour is $6 and begins on the hour, every hour.
Luckily (or unluckily) I was the only person to show up at 11am. The 10am had four people and the 12pm had eight. This meant I had to really concentrate to pay attention, as Darwin – the guide, was only talking to me.
First we sucked the goo from around a cocoa bean, which tastes sweet. They use this to make an awful tasting honey.
If we look inside the bean, we can see this white part. This white part must die during the process (that’s what he said!), to produce good tasting chocolate.
The beans are then dried in a place like a greenhouse, and put in different boxes for various amounts of time. The last box kills the white thing.
They also dry other things to add to the chocolate, such as coffee beans and chilli. Yes, I was more interested in the cat eating a chilli, than the beans.
The beans then go into different machines and we get los nibs.
I think los nibs go into some more machines with 20 tonnes of pressure, and we get a cocoa paste, and cocoa butter (I never realised cocoa butter is actually made from cocoa beans). We cool it down on a marble table and add some flavours.
The small cup has pure chocolate inside. First I had to try it like that. It was so bitter, it wasn’t nice at all. Then I had to take a little bit on the spoon and we added sugar, which made it taste lovely. Then we added various flavours such as some coffee, some chilli, or some ginger.
Last, I got left to enjoy my homegrown chocolate brownie, with a cup of homegrown coffee. Yum!