Try a Google search looking for popular chocolate travel destinations and you will find some of the best chocolate factories in the world. Of course, the first countries on the list are Switzerland and Belgium. One result even yielded Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Many of us foodies travel to exotic destinations for special food. I for one, love to go to Wisconsin for all the artisan cheese stands (not to mention my wife of 21 years is from Madison). One thing special about the roadside cheese stand in Wisconsin is that the dairy cows are happily grazing nearby. I doubt the area would be known for great cheese if the dairy had been shipped in from Chiapas, Mexico or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica where I currently live and make artisan tree-to-bar chocolate.
Chocolate as we know it today, is a baby of the industrial revolution. Raw products are shipped from exotic (formally colonized) parts of the world and refined into a magical substance called chocolate. Cacao farmers seldom even dreamed of making their own chocolate and some of them had never even tasted the "fruit of the gods".
Over the last 10 years or so, a movement has been quietly growing where creative do-it-yourselfers have learned how to make chocolate that is beginning to rival the top European chocolates. This little movement has made it possible for a micro-batch of chocolate to taste as good (in my opinion better) as any mass produced chocolate.
About six years ago Caribeans started playing with the locally grown cacao. After some time and lots of challenges, we have done it! The major difference is we are also cacao producers. So now for travelers who want to experience an authentic chocolate, there is a place a lot like that roadside cheese factory.
If you love chocolate and you love to travel, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica is your new destination!
Check out our 3rd Annual Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival.
Chocolate Diaries from the Caribeans Bean-To-Bar chocolate maker..