Travel

Chocal Womens Chocolate Cooperative: Learn The Process of Making Chocolate In the Dominican Republic

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!

Chocal Womens Chocolate Cooperative- Visit Puerto Plata with Fathom Travel and Learn The Process of Making Chocolate In the Dominican Republic

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.

Fathom travel, working with local women at Chocal Artisan hand made chocolate factory in Alta Mira, Dominican Republic

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!

Fathom travel, Cacao pods on a cacao tree at Chocal Alta Mira, they can be green, red or yellow and they are about the size of a medium melon

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!

Fathom travel, the inside of a fresh cacao pod at Chocal

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.

Fathom travel, cacao beans in the fermentation process, Chocal Dominican Republic

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.

Fathom travel, separating cocoa beans at Chocal, Alta Mira, Dominican Republic

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!

Fathom travel, cruise ship passengers sorting cacao nibs at Chocal wone's chocolate cooperative, Dominican Republic

This is what a successful batch looks like after de-shelling…

Fathom travel, Chocal worker, cacao nibs are removed from their pods, shells and other pieces are separated by hand

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!

Fathom travel, guests are immersed into the chocolate making experience, Deanna Underwood is spreading chocolate into molds

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!

Fathom travel, Chocal chocolate bars

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.

Fathom travel, Cacao beans ready to be roasted at Chocal, Alta Mira, Dominican Republic

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
Website: http://www.fathom.org
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