One-week (seven-night) program
During this week-long (seven night) adventure, we'll travel from Quito through the Ecuador highlands to Mindo where you will learn hands-on chocolate making from Barbara Wilson and Joe Meza, of Mindo Chocolate Makers.
The program includes a day at a cacao farm to work with the farmer in harvesting cacao pods and preparing the beans for fermentation.
To learn more about Ecuadorian cacao, chocolate making and Ecuador, see: Brief History of Cacao in Ecuador by Jeffrey Stern.
**Legend for meals included in your tour:
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 Mariscal Sucre International Airport outside Quito, Ecuador. Private pickup at the airport for transportation to the host hotel in Tumbaco. Enjoy a group dinner with where we will learn about each other and be treated to a casual discussion on the country of Ecuador.
Sunday: B, L
After breakfast and check-out, we will travel up through the Ecuador highlands and into the cloud forest to the small town of Mindo where we will check into the Sisakuna Lodge and enjoy an orientation lunch with Mindo Chocolate Makers, Barbara Wilson and Joe Meza. Free night for dinner and to explore Mindo.
Monday: B, L
We begin the hands-on chocolate making program with Mindo Chocolate Makers, Barbara Wilson and Joe Meza. We will taste chocolate, make our first batch of chocolate and see an overview of the entire process of small-batch chocolate making including roasting, grinding, winnowing and making chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate) and cocoa powder. Free night for dinner.
Tuesday: B, L
We will travel to a small family farm where you will harvest and taste freshly picked, shade-grown cacao. After removing the cacao beans from the pods we will put them in to ferment. We will have a traditional Ecuadorian lunch at the family farm and have the opportunity to ask questions and to learn about the challenges they face in growing cacao. Free night for dinner.
Wednesday: B, L
We will take our batch of chocolate out and temper, mold and cool our chocolate bars. We will practice tempering chocolate on a marble slab and discuss how to achieve successful tempering as well as work with small-batch artisan chocolate. We will also discuss sourcing quality cocoa beans and the right equipment for your chocolate production. Free night for dinner.
Thursday: B, L
We will unmold our bars and package them to take them home. Q&A about any part of the process you have experienced in the factory. We will learn about how rustic or Mexican style chocolate is made, review how to make cocoa powder and cocoa butter, white and milk chocolate. You will learn how cacao percentages impact the chocolate making process and how to create your own batches of chocolate with different flavor profiles.
Friday: B, D
You'll have a free morning to enjoy Mindo and have a casual lunch before we leave for the return to Quito. Group dinner to say your farewells.
Independent departures from host hotel. Private transportation provided to the airport.