Exploring Cacao in Ecuador

Chocolate Making in Ecuador

Chocolate Making in Ecuador is an opportunity for you to learn hands-on how to make chocolate from cocoa beans. You'll be in the chocolate factory making your own chocolate as well as exploring cacao fields learning directly from the chocolate makers and farmers who are actively working to save fine-flavor cacao in Ecuador. Also you'll benefit from instructor-led palate training and bean grading sessions. This program happens every other year.

Chocolate making in Ecuador

Next program: June, 2020

Registration fee (does not include travel to and from Ecuador): Cost for this program has not been confirmed but note that the registration fee in prior years has been approximately $2200 US, single occupancy, for your budget planning.

Registration will open about 6 months before the program start date. Would you like to be notified when registration opens for this program?

Registration fee includes:

Hands-on training program in chocolate making from the bean
In-depth discussions on the business of making chocolate
A day in the cacao fields with the farmer
Seven (7) nights lodging (including sales tax and lodging tax).
Seven (7) breakfasts
Five (5) lunches
Two (2) dinners
All in-country land transportation and tour guide

Chocolate making in Ecuador

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: The History Of Chocolate In Ecuador by Southern Explorations.

Program itinerary:

**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.

Saturday: D

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, bean grading 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, how to train your palate to discern flavors and 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.

Saturday: B

Independent departures from host hotel. Private transportation provided to the airport.

Chocolate Making in Ecuador

What more do I need to know?

This program is delivered in English.

Note re shared rooms – Ecole Chocolat will pair students wishing to share a room in the order of receipt of their deposit. Please be prepared to pay the single room registration fee if we are unable to pair you with an appropriate roommate.

Program participants must be 17 years of age or older. Also note that the program involves a lot of standing for long periods so good mobility and strength are important. Because we go into small towns, access for the handicapped is minimal.

Our minimum requirement for this program to run is 6 students and the maximum is 12 students. You'll want to wait to book your flight to Ecuador until we confirm that the minimum number of students have registered.

Program certificate:

Students completing the program will receive an Ecole Chocolat Certificate of Achievement.

Chocolate Making in Ecuador

Graduate reviews

"The curriculum exceeded my expectations. Barbara and Jose were knowledgeable, patient, genuine and gracious hosts. All of their staff and partners we encountered were polite and enthusiastic. Highly recommend this program for any adventurous person wanting to gain first-hand insight into successful chocolate making from the source to market. Nestled in the gorgeous rainforest, Mindo town is very charming and locals made us feel safe and at home. Wonderful!" Kendance, 2018 program

"Loved the farm and seeing all to cacao trees. Cutting into them[pods] and learning about the types and hybrids. One of the best highlights of the course for me. Enjoyed the hands on experience of the different steps and watching staff in action with the machinery. Barbara and Joe answered our questions to the best of their knowledge, this was helpful." Natasha, 2018 program

"It was an amazing program, whether you are a professional or just a beginner in a chocolate world. I think, everyone had a chance to pick some things that they could use in their jobs or future projects. One of the most important things that, to my mind, added a huge value to the program were the other participants (students). Everyone of us came from a different work backgrounds, with different experiences and different knowledge about chocolate, and all these differences massively enriched our discussions and overall learning process." Migle, 2016 program

Cancellation policy:

Our Ecole Chocolat Master Chocolatier Programs only accommodate a limited number of students and are usually full, with a waiting list. As the programs involve a travel component, we need to contact those on the waiting list in enough time so they can make travel arrangements. If you have to cancel, we'll do everything in our power to find a replacement but can't guarantee that we'll be successful. No refunds will be given after 45 days prior to the program start date. Make sure you're totally commited to the program before paying your registration fee. We also suggest that you take out travel insurance when booking your travel to and from the program country, in case of an emergency.

Back to list of our other Master Chocolate Programs

Cacao Fermentation Boxes

Cacao fermentation boxes.

Pulling beans from the pod

Pulling the beans from the pod.

In the Mindo factory

In the Mindo factory.

Chocolate Maker Joe Meza

Chocolate Maker Joe Meza.

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