El Quetzal Mindo Chocolate tour – Ecuador
A couple of blocks away from the central park, in the warm town of Mindo, you can go on a chocolate tour by El Quetzal Mindo. A tour that allows its visitors to go on a journey through the history of chocolate making.
This local business that has been running since 2008, with a goal in mind: to make the best chocolate possible. They started back then as a coffee store, selling pastries.
For their chocolate they work on sourcing the finest organic Nacional cacao from small family farms outside of Mindo. During the tour we learnt that cacao is original from the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. Later on, cacao was taken to other countries with warm weather.
Source of the best cacao
In recent years, Ecuador has become a recognized source of quality cacao beans Ecuador. Some of the main chocolate brands in the country and the government participate in international fairs representing this unique product and showcasing it to the world.
The Chocolate tour
This is a tour everyone visiting Mindo should take, and even more if they love chocolate.
A guided tour of the place allows visitors to see the cacao tree and fruit up close and learn about all the chocolate making process.
After an introduction, our guide took us outside the property where we where able to see the process used in manufacturing the products.
First stages include fermentation and drying of the beans and El Quetzal carefully oversees these two stages. The next stage is the roasting of the cocoa. At this stage we learn that when the shell of the bean cracks, the meaty part is then “cocoa nibs”, the shell is used as tea and then the roasted cocoa nibs are refined and conched, and after several hours the nutty nibs are refined into smooth melted chocolate. The manufacturing process ends when the chocolate is tempered, molded, and wrapped by hand.
At the end of the tour, we are back at the restaurant for the testing part. Here we get to taste some of the chocolate, and then we are free to make our own mix. We get sugar, coffee, chili pepper and a spoon to mix freely. We also get to taste the cacao nibs, the tea and the syrup. Oh, I almost forgot to mention their decadent chocolate brownie.
If you are a chocolate lover, you will like to know that at the end of the tour you get trays with samples of different percentages of cacao and other fillings for sampling.
All chocolate bars by el Quetzal have a high percentage of chocolate, with 67% or more purity, sugar is organic and there are no chemicals used in their products.
The store and restaurant
Besides the tour and a lodge, El Quetzal features a restaurant with delicious food and a high-end gift shop with a wide selection of the products by el Quetzal.
Where: El Quetzal de Mindo – 9 de Octubre, Mindo, Ecuador
Directions: turn LEFT at the main square in Mindo, then drive/walk two blocks up the hill
When: 7 days a week, each hour on the hour from 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Cost: $10 per person
Whether you are a cacao enthusiast or a foodie this award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate factory is the choice for you. If you are in Mindo or wondering what to do on a weekend near Quito I can recommend El Quetzal de Mindo chocolate tour or if you are lacking time at least go inside for their decadent chocolate brownie.
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If you want more in-depth information and also a guide that you can bring along during your trip, I recommend the travel guide Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands.
This is a great source of information and tips, maps and all you need if you plan on visiting Ecuador. I personally like the option of having a hard copy version where I can take notes and have at hand.
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