Visiting Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic? I went on an awesome impact cruise with the Fathom Travel and got the chance to visit Chocal Women’s Chocolate Cooperative and learn the process of making chocolate in the Dominican Republic. It was an amazing experience!
The Fathom Travel impact cruise I went on was nothing short of amazing. They offer a different type of travel experience, one that you can curate to your needs and lend a hand to help with the needs of others, all while enjoying the amenities of a full service cruise. There were so many activities available on the ship and on land, and choosing to visit Chocal Women’s Chocolate Cooperative was on the top of my list.
All about Chocal – the process of making chocolate in the Dominican Republic
Chocal is an organic chocolate making factory in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, comprised of women who make a living selling artisanal organic chocolate. The cooperative came about to help women with limited opportunities for employment in one of the poorest regions, and currently employs mothers, widows, and other women in need of work. All products are made by hand and our group got the chance to learn about the process of making chocolate in the Dominican Republic and actually try it ourselves – every step of the way!
Cacao beans begin here in a cacao pod, they grow on trees and can be green, yellow, and even red in color. This one was picked fresh from a tree right before our eyes, the inside has a moist consistency and they let us have a taste of the beans on the inside – slimy, yet sweet!
Each of the cacao beans are removed from the pods and sun dried, they’ll undergo a fermentation process to get the ready for chocolate making. You can see them spread out in the sunshine, these are almost done in the photo below.
Time to make some chocolate!
There were 4 different steps in the process of chocolate making that we got the chance to help with. This is hands on people, so strap on your hair nets, we’re making CHOCOLATE!
1. Opening the beans to remove the cacao nibs – a process that is done by hand, no machines for this step.
2. Separating and removing shells from cacao nibs by hand – Lots of shells find their way into the cacao nibs, so they need to be further inspected to remove them. Our team had this step down!
This is what a successful batch looks like after de-shelling…
After they put it all together behind the scenes...
3. Molding chocolate into bars and various shapes – A large, warm bowl of chocolate sat there awaiting our arrival. One of the workers spread it out onto a cutting board surface and folded it over and over to prep for this. We learned how they scrape the chocolate to make sure they are thorough, there are tons of different molds and shapes available. The best part – we got to lick our fingers at the end when we were finished!
4. Wrapping chocolate bars for selling – Our final step was to join an assembly line of workers who had chocolate bars ready for wrapping. One person had to wrap the foil, the other had the outer wrapper and a glue gun, then the next step was to sort the chocolate bars, then place them into the appropriate boxes. Signed, sealed, delivered, and ready for store shelves!
Visit Chocal and lend a helping hand, an experience you won’t forget
I am so glad that I was able to experience the process of making chocolate in the Dominican Republic, it’s so neat to see how chocolate is made and assist in the process. Our group actually helped to make so much in the production efforts that we finished about a weeks worth of work! It’s true that many hands make light work, my heart is full.
Of the many activities and excursions available on a Fathom Travel cruise, making chocolate in the Dominican Republic with Chocal is at the top of our list. Experience a new way to travel and give back with a Fathom cruise to the Dominican Republic – it’s cruise meets social impact travel. Brilliant!
Fathom Travel: Impact + Travel Cruise
Learn more about Chocal Women’s Chocolate Cooperative