Experiential and wellness tourism are growing at a rate in excess of 15 percent worldwide. Nicaragua coffee and chocolate adventures now figure prominently in the offerings of successful tour operations.
Matagalpa Tours sweetens the pot by bringing their tours to the beauty of the mountainous region surrounding Matagalpa. Coffee grows in abundance high in the cloud forest while prolific small farm holders provide the bulk of the high quality coffee that is often organic. The farm nestled into the hillside going as high as 4,000 feet into the cloud canopy. Cacao is very often grown as a supplementary income. It grows on the slopes descending from the farm elevated coffee Grove in the riparian zone approaching the crystal and rivers that crisscross the region, descending over waterfalls to craft swimming holes in the mountain ledges.
A drive through the rural landscape on rugged dirt roads takes the visitor into a world barely imagined by North Americans: children, naked save for rubber shoes, playing in the roadside culvert; teenage boys calling to passersby as they try to sell monkeys and parakeets held by jute string captured in the surrounding rainforest. At a roadside farm a bull is down on his front knees and a silver knife flashes in the sun. The bull now goes from serving the family as a plow horse to serving as essential protein during the rainy season.
Beyond the rumble of the rugged road this lack of machetes rings. Cacao pods are being human from the trunks of these Theobroma trees. The typical farmers cacao crop often around the homestead as proximity to the river is important for both the home and the crop. The cargo pods are carried in large baskets to outdoor kitchens where they are opened. There Musil Lodge savored for it to taste and important calories and the seeds are extracted the seeds are placed in bins and covered with banana leaves to ferment for 8 days. The complex flavors of the seeds develop in this stage after what which the beans will dry in sheltered shallow bins for 2 weeks. The shelters serve the coffee process as well. Hear the tourists can run their fingers through the cacao beans as they say solidify the flavors and within the bean flesh. When the timing is right visitors can assist in packing heavy beans into burlap and Tivar bags. The bags are loaded onto trucks already packed with children and dogs and taken to holding locations for grating purchase by local chocolatiers or shipment abroad.watching over them zealously with wood and rakes Visitors to medical PA tours offers 6 stores specifically about chocolate culture and 13 tours that combine hot chocolate with coffee tobacco natural wonders and sustainability. Trips along the coffee chocolate fruit can include visits to El Castillo a semi artesanal Chocolate Factory. Perhaps most cacao focused is there a tower tour featuring a lesson in making P no Leo I’m NATIVE Nicaraguan drink made of corn and cacao. Sipping the refreshing drink is good but most visitors want to experience the countryside as well. View a photo essay of a day on cacao tour in Nicaragua here.
Around the trajectory of chocolate becoming regarded as the global taste sensation, the beans that end in this tasty bar have traveled the world seeking a home.
The consumer now prefers an experience within his chocolate. This supports the growth of new artisanal efforts and this presents an opportunity. It is this craving for an authentic experience that brings people to Nicaraga and the other nations of Central America. There are miles and miles of land where people live off the grid. Farmers who use cacao as a supplemental, patio crop harvest the pods twice a year. Nicaraguan patio farmers often maintain the heirloom varietals, the coveted Criollo. Criollo trees produce cacao beans that are smaller than the average size of brown beans of Trinitario or Forestero trees. Indigenous to the lands of the Maya, Criollo grows slower and is more sensitive to disease. Cacao was reintroduced to Nicaragua in its hybridized form in the 1960s. Cocoa pods contain 20-40 beans in a wet mucilaginous suspension.
Carlos Mann – ‘ just a pot fire and a spoon.’ He is the owner of Momotombo Chocolateros, an up and coming chocolate business in Nicaragua. Mann focused on the Central American market, making Nicaraguan chocolate from Nicaraguan cacao, employing Nicaraguan labor.
Microclimate suitable for cacao at 3000 feet and cloud forest coffee in the higher elevations it grows in the understory shaded by the cloud forest canopy.
Will the artisanal chocolate markets continue to grow, pushed by consumer concern for sustainability and human rights? Or will the higher priced success of finer flavored chocolate be driven by a global chocolate crisis of light and drought? Either way, the quality chocolate market will find its resources of talent and materials in the hills of Central America, the home to which cacao now returns.
Resources and References:
Ritter Project El Cacao – http://www.ritter-sport.de/pdflink/en/1937d55f-865c-11e4-ab9e-55da9a0ac5b5/el-cacao-00002.pdf
Ritter Project Cacaonica – http://www.ritter-sport.de/en/Family-business-values/sustainability/cacaonica-00002/