"The Ecole Chocolat Costa Rica course is highly recommended for anyone looking to learn more about the steps in chocolate making that matter most: the beans, fermentation and drying. This is where all the precursor flavors are developed and will make the chocolate you produce unique. Recognized as the 2010 chocolate maker of the year by the FCIA, Steve DeVries is more than happy to pass down the chocolate wisdom he has gleaned from years of research and first-hand experience. Not only are the students immersed in the cacao growing environment from sun up to sun down, they can also ask Steve and Jorge and Julie of Sibu Chocolate any questions they have about the cacao trade. Even if your goal is not to source your own cacao and to start a chocolate making company, the Costa Rica course by Ecole Choclolat is highly educational with not just chocolate, but with the history and culture of Costa Rica and Central America. In the words of Steve DeVries, “Experience is the best teacher.” Robbie Stout &Anna Davies, Ritual Chocolate 2010 group
Below is a trailer for the new documentary Bean to Bar featuring Steve De Vries and graduates Annie and Robbie who founded Ritual Chocolate. Like them, during the program you will experience it all: farm to processing to manufacturing to finished product.
The chocolate bean, which is harvested from the cacao tree, has a long history in Costa Rica. Cacao beans were originally used as currency in the pre-Columbian times by local Indians and continued to be a form of currency into the 1930s. It was one of the major industries in Costa Rica before the introduction of coffee in the late 1700s outpaced it.
"This trip is worth the time and money. I’m not a person who travels in groups, and I’ve never done a package program before. I was very impressed with what I gained from this trip. I learned a tremendous amount, and also was able to solidify so many things that I have 'learned' but didn’t 'know' in a concrete way". Aubrey, 2011 group
During the program you will be led through formal tastings
of regional cacao including: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Ecuadorean, Venezuelan
and Costa Rican dark chocolates. The formal tastings will also focus on the
benefits or not of aging chocolates.
Legend for meals included in your program:
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Itinerary subject to change: every effort will be made to keep the itinerary
as it appears here; however, the final itinerary may vary due to schedules,
availability and factors beyond our control.
Independent arrival at Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose, Costa Rica.
Program and lunch at CATIE Center for Tropical Agriculture and Higher Learning
Full day at Finmac organic cacao plantation with lunch onsite at Amazilia chocolate cooperative.
Wednesday and Thursday: B,L
Visit to wild cocoa in the forest and indigenous peoples communities on the Caribbean coast over the two days. Free nights for dinner in Puerto Viejo and Limon.
Friday: B,L, D
Return to Central Valley and San Jose, Farewell Dinner at Sibu Chocolate.
Saturday: Independent departures from host hotel.
"I went on this trip a few years back and it was that good. I really don't know who else does something like this. The guides are world-class (Steve De Vries-cacao explorer and Julio Fernandez-enthralling human encyclopedia). You will learn stuff about cacao fermentation AND about sloth rearing you never knew you wanted to know, including things not to pick up while hiking through a tropical cacao forest"
Elizabeth Montes, Sahagun