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Tour de Chocolate

May 1, 2012

The two largest sources of income for the Dominican Republic are services—including tourism—and remittances. Like many Latin American countries rich in natural beauty, the Dominican Republic is starting to explore the field of eco-tourism. One branch of eco-tourism is agro-tourism, which showcases agricultural processes in a fun and educational way. I had my first experience with agro-tourism on Tuesday with the rest of my training class and a Canadian couple. The farm is a member of a cacao cooperative called Conacado. Check out their website!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2012 6:06 AM

    Brendan – I loved reading this post! It was entertaining and informative, and thinking about chocolate is a great way to start the day. I shared it with our community partner in Haiti who works with women who run a chocolate factory there, too. Thanks for sharing your stories!

    • Tom Forbes permalink
      May 7, 2012 10:50 AM

      I would love to know where they are making chocolate in Haiti. From the maps I have seen, I think most, if not all of the cacao in Haiti is grown in the North? Do you know if they are using fermented cacao and what group or groups might support them?

  2. T'rent permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:32 AM

    I want a hershey bar now..Nice, educational post. Good to see the pics too. Hope your move goes well.

  3. Tom Forbes permalink
    May 5, 2012 1:27 PM

    Very nice post. I love your pictures. From what I have learned about chocolate and the purple tint. Most Dominican cacao is made of Trinitario which includes 1000’s of different hybrids. It is a tree which was developed from the original criollo (flavor bean) and forestero (more resistant to disease) trees. There are also forestero and criollo mixed in from what I have been told. The purple is what makes it more resistant but the lighter tints are preferred for flavor. Venezuela is known for the criollo and most prized is the porcelena. The cut tests are mostly used to look at the quality of the ferment and how evenly sized are the beans. A nice evenly colored light purple is preferred. This process reduces the bitterness and astringency when it is made into chocolate.

    The Hispanola and Sanchez types are used only to distinguish between fermented and unfermented. Hispanola being fermented. These names are only used in the DR. I think only about 15% of DR cacao is Hispanola. Some of the Sanchez is used for eating chocolate, but blended with some of the better stuff and used for the cheaper chocolates. Much of it is pressed into cacao butter and the remaining cake becomes cacoa powder, much of this alkalized or Dutched. I brought back both Sanchez and Hispanola and made chocolate with it by using a melanger and conching it for 24 hours. You can really taste the difference when it is finely ground.

    Conacado is helping many small farmers to move toward producing cacao for the fine flavor market rather than less quality Sanchez beans. The Green and Blacks, Equal Exchange, Mast Brothers and Taza are a few who make good to excellent chocolate with cacao beans from the farmers cooperatives in the DR. Michel Cluizel has a very good bar from an estate from on the Rizek farms and Spannvola is the only tree to bar process I know which starts in the DR and finishes up in Maryland.

    • May 7, 2012 5:41 AM

      Thanks for the insight on chocolate! Really interesting stuff.

  4. TomF permalink
    May 7, 2012 3:50 AM

    nice pics.

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