Ash and I planned this trip to Ecuador kind of spur of the moment so we didn’t really research anything ahead of time. Actually that’s a lie. Even if we had planned this trip three years in advance we wouldn’t have researched anything in advance. I really need to stop using the word “planned” in a sentence with the words “Ash and I,” don’t I?
The beauty of planning nothing means that when you get to your hostel and meet two Aussies and a Finn and they say, “Want to go to Mindo? It’s a cloud forest near Quito where you can zipline, see pretty birdies, go horseback riding and eat chocolate,” you are free to respond, “Did somebody say chocolate?! Let’s dooooo it.”
I’m not too big on ziplining. I mean really, when I hear about stories of tourists plummeting to their deaths in third world countries when they go ziplining, it makes me wonder how/why these people are stupid-brave enough to zipline in a place where they know there are no safety rules and regulations.
Needless to say, the chocolate factory and horseback riding were high priority for me.
After a late start, our bus that was supposedly taking us to Mindo, arrived near to, not to Mindo, and threw us out on the side of the road somewhere in the cloud forest, where we had to hitch hike down to the actual town. This threw us off a little bit. We finally got into main town Mindo at 3:30pm. The chocolate factory tour started at 4pm!
We sprinted with all our backpacks and overnight stuff up to the chocolate factory and arrived out of breath and worried that we had missed the start time. Turns out we were the only ones there that day for a tour and they could start as soon as we were ready. No need for all the urgency. This is Ecuador, where life moves at a slower pace :)
The owner himself gave us a fascinating tour! He’s an Ecuadorian who grew up in the United States and saw a world of possibilities for producing this incredible artesanal chocolate in Mindo and exporting to around the world.
We got to taste test every step of the way, going through the entire process of how to make chocolate from start to finish. The chocolate bean/nuts were so yummy. I’m surprised they don’t sell in normal supermarkets them the way they do cashews or almonds, the flavor is that good!
This guy was also interesting to talk to as a fellow entrepreneur. You KNOW that Ash and I grilled him on every aspect of his business and his plans for expansion.
As you can tell, Ash, and all of us were in chocolate heaven.
As a chocolate lover, I adored seeing where one of my favorite foods actually comes from and how it’s made. This trip was a hell of a lot different from the time I visited the Hershey factory in Hershey, PA!
Oh. And do you LOVE the cloud forest? Kind of bananas how beautiful this scenery was!
The owner knew absolutely nothing about chocolate when he first started his business. Yet he’s been incredibly successful. His passion for what he does shines through in the entire factory. It’s a small business but from what he told us, they are constantly tweaking and changing the process to make the chocolate even more delicious.
The final step was to take the finished melted pre-chocolate stuff to mix it with different flavors, like the amount of sugar you wanted and different ingredients such as ginger and honey.
This tour was such a fun thing to do. If you’re going to Mindo, I’d highly recommend it.
Visit their website here. Try their intense cafe mocha and eat a brownie while you’re there. YUM.
Have you ever been to a chocolate factory? Hershey doesn’t count!