From Bean to Bar – Organic Chocolate-Making Workshop in Cusco

Travelling in a foreign country it’s always good to try the local produce. When it comes to delicious local produce, what’s better than chocolate? Nothing, it seems. Apparently the Aztecs, Mayans, Spanish, Irish and Dutch thought so too. All the better when it helps local farmers.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about cocoa and the process of making chocolate. Awhile ago on the internet I stumbled across a chocolate museum in the heart of Cusco. Now that we have arrived in Cusco, the ChocoMuseo  became one of the number one items on my ‘to do’ list and through their chocolate-making workshops I could do just that.

Cusco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, which extended from Ecuador to Chile. In the high jungle of their empire cocoa plants florished. The Mayas brought cocoa from these parts to Central America where it became an important currency. The greatest legacy that the Mayas left behind was their discovery of the cocoa plant and the liquid gold they produced by roasting and grinding the brown beans and mixing the bitter paste with water, chilli and spices.

When the Aztecs gained control over Mesoamerica they turned cocoa into a form of currency, and it soon ruled their vast trade empire. Eventually the Aztecs introduced the cocoa currency in Mexico and under the rule of Aztec emperor Montezuma it became a precious commodity.

The Spanish first discovered this treasure during their conquest of the Americas during the 16th century, when Cortes defeated Montezuma in 1521. Cortes ordered that all Aztec wealth be shipped back to Spain, and of course this included the precious cocoa beans. The Spanish however, found the cocoa drink too bitter for their liking and started to add milk, sugar and cinnamon to the recipe. And so cocoa became a major commodity too for the Spanish.

When the cocoa drink was introduced to European nobles in the 17th century, it became so popular that the trend started to spread. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that new techniques and recipes were developed and it became available to a wider common public. Cocoa became chocolate and its worldwide popularity grew.

Today, Peru is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world after Côte d’Ivoire and the 13th largest exporter, 60% of which is produced in the rainforest areas of the Eastern Andes.

In 2007 the world market recognised the quality of Peruvian cocoa leading to higher earned prices for Peruvian growers, especially for organic and fair trade products.

Chocolate’s popularity has also led to its disgrace. Throughout the last century it has become scarce and expensive, and demand has been higher than supply, which has led to even greater rise in production. This has been a problem for cocoa farmers who have often been exploited and paid unfairly for their produce. In turn large-scale production has led to the inhuman treatment of workers and child labour in developing countries.

The ChocoMuseo is a free museum dedicated to the sweet, brown stuff, including its history and a look at how chocolate is produced. Hidden in the corner of Plaza Regocijo, the ChocoMuseo is one of the sweetest places in Cusco.

The ChocoMuseo works with local cooperatives to produce certified organic precious beans. Their network includes a total of 98 cocoa farmers with a total of 140 hectares.

During the workshop we learnt about the whole process of producing chocolate, ‘from bean to bar’ – from cultivating, fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding the beans to conching, refining and finally moulding the chocolate. The cost is 70 soles for two-hours of chocolate bliss.

 

For something a little different the museum also organises homestay tours to local plantations where you can meet the farmers and see where the beans are produced. Produced in the high jungle north of Cusco, the tour ends with a trip to the nearby magical Machupicchu.

It’s a great way to truly appreciate where your next bar comes from and you get to take your produce home with you. Then of course there’s licking the spoon at the end!

Advertisements
Comments
2 Responses to “From Bean to Bar – Organic Chocolate-Making Workshop in Cusco”
  1. jackluc says:

    le fondanrt au chocolat de Tonio doit désormais être fait avec du chocolat de Cusco. J ‘ai hâte de le goûter en avril prochain !
    Luc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • © Natasha Malinda. This website and its contents is exclusively copyright to Natasha Malinda. All rights reserved. You may not, except with prior and express written permission, copy, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

daianddal

Look what happens when Dai meets Dal...

ACOSA

African Communities Organisation of South Australia

Exploring Ecuador

Megan Brabec

La Flaca Lucia y Gerry

Our Tango classes in Buenos Aires

Flor de Milonga

Events and Details of Flor de Milonga!!

Secha's Travels

Travelog de SechaNua

more colorful

Living life in CMYK

Greener Ways

living a more ethical existence

Travel and Leisure Blog

Latest travel news on food and wine, town and country, family tarvel and budget tours etc.

The cloudforest adventure blog

Sharing ideas and experiences about teaching English in Intag and developing ecotourism to save the cloud forest in Northern Ecuador

Coffee Tours in Ecuador

by EcuadorTraveler.com

Rowing Through Life

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ~Robert Frost~

ECO ADVENTURER

Unique Travel for the Eco Adventurer (c)

The Green Blog Network

A global network of green bloggers.

urbsform

Just another WordPress.com site

The Passport Report

~ Paradise At Home and Abroad~

Sarah M. Langdon Photography

Photographer, Videographer, Writer

The Responsible Traveller

Sustainable Travel Photography

%d bloggers like this: