Welcome back again for the 3rd and final part of our amazing group cacao farm tour.
There was so much to tell you that we simply could not pack it all into 1 email, or even 2!
Even after reading this there will still be lots of information that it was just not possible to squeeze in.
Luckily for you, we are taking reservations now for our 2nd 2017 Group Cacao Farm Tour in Belize which is booked for September 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th.
So, back to the tour where we left you as the team and our group of intrepid travelers were arriving in beautiful Ambergris Caye and on our way to Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club (MBR). MBR is a Curio Collection by Hilton resort and home to our 5-star gourmet chocolate shop and production kitchen, Mahogany Chocolate.
The group was treated to a free class in the art of chocolate making hosted by our Executive Chocolate Maker, Armando Choco.
Starting with the fermented and dried beans which came from our depot the day before, Armando talked everyone through the next stages in the process from “seed to bean to bar”. From roasting, cracking, winnowing and tempering all the way to the finished chocolate product.
And every one of our attendees got hands on in every stage.
First Armando demonstrated the “old school” traditional Maya way of completing each stage by hand. Then he demonstrated how our brand new, 5-star chocolate making equipment completed the same steps in less time, more efficiently and more precisely.
He explained the importance of only using zero defect beans in our chocolate. Most of the sorting for this very important stage is still done by hand. Armando also explained the importance of only using perfectly fermented and dried beans to give our chocolate its distinct profile, smooth texture and sharp snap!
Suddenly everything we witnessed back in our fermentation and drying depot the day before started to come together!
There is certainly an art to making gourmet, fine flavor/organic chocolate and Armando showed off some of his skills by hand tempering the liquid chocolate on our granite counter top before filling the molds to make the shells for our truffles.
Once the molds were set, our tour attendees got to try their hands at filling the truffles with our delicious mixed berry, caramel or banana foster fillings. The attendees did very well and one or two may even have a future in chocolate making. The same cannot be said for yours truly!
With the truffles filled it was time for each of the attendees to make their own chocolate bar which they got to take home with them as a souvenir.
You need good timing and a steady hand to fill your chocolate bar molds from the liquid 70% dark chocolate pouring from the Compatta, our chocolate tempering machine. After shaking out the bubbles each attendee added a selection of toppings of their choosing and placed their molds in the fridge to set.
Then it was out to the front of the store where everyone got to sample some of the delicious chocolate truffles, hot and cold drinking chocolate and cacao nibs that we have on sale in our store, Mahogany Chocolate, now open 7 days a week from 11am to 6pm in the Downtown Area of Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club.
When class was over and everyone was freshened up, we hosted our last meal of the tour, our farewell to Belize group dinner at Shaken, MBR’s casual dining restaurant.
Drago and his crew did an amazing job setting us up poolside and serving a delicious meal. Tour attendees and team members swapped contact information as new-found friends for life made plans to meet up again soon.
We chatted with our attendees after dinner to see what their biggest take-away was from the tour. Almost everyone one of them told us that they were leaving with a new-found appreciation for all the hard work and dedication that goes into making a product that we typically take for granted.
No one stops to think about the farmers and the workers who grow and produce cacao, about the conditions they live and work in or about how little they receive as compensation for all their hard work.
And all of our team are very pleased to be a part of the Belize Cacao Consortium’s plan to help right that wrong by rewarding the workers, treating them with respect and providing a better way of life for them and their families.