We wanted to do something different from the usual tours offered so when we stumbled across a cocoa farm tour in the Chocolate Museum in Granada we couldn’t resist signing up.
The icing on the cake came when we asked to go the next day and found out that the minimum group size was just 2 people which meant we would have a private tour at no extra expense!
We met up with our driver and our guide at 8.30am and headed out to the lancha for a short boat ride through the islets to the farm entrance.
From here we were given horses and we slowly rode through a plantain plantation. I am not an experienced horse rider and my partner had never been on a horse before so it was an interesting experience to say the least. I think it took us longer to go by horse than if we had walked!
Eventually we arrived at the endless looking plantation of cocoa and were shown the different types that they currently grow and how they make hybrids.
We were then shown what the inside of the cocoa pod looks like and told to try the pulp that surrounds the seeds. The fleshy areas around each seed are very sweet and we later learned that this pulp is what helps to give cocoa its sweetness.
We moved onto the actual farm itself and were shown the fermentation and drying process that each batch undergoes – 6 days of fermentation and a further 4 or so days of drying. The fermentation is done in boxes and every day the cocoa seeds are turned to ensure they fully ferment, as demonstrated by our guide:
Once ready for drying they are placed in large trays under the sun to in essence dry out until they reach around 6% water content. They weigh the seeds at the start and every day until they see the weight has dropped to signify the right percentage of water left within the cocoa.
Once our cocoa education was over we were taken to a beautiful spot for lunch overlooking lake Nicaragua. After lunch we were taken to small thermal pool for a cool down and then headed back to the boat.
By this point we decided to walk back as we gave up with the horses, mine didn’t want to go anywhere except for under the trees dragging me through the low branches and my partner was sufficiently sore to not want to get back on.
Once back at the boat we were taken to another part of the lake where extremely hot water bubbles up from the Mombacho volcano. It was remarkable to feel the water steadily increasing in temperature as we progressed to the source, so much so that you could feel it under the boat.
We were finally returned to Granada by 3.30pm and have to say we thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was our first relaxed tour that did not rush us and went at our own pace, the guide was friendly nd had a genuine passion for chocolate. If you are looking for something different then we would highly recommend this one!