I reckon that Antigua, Guatemala, has the best Choco Museo we’ve been to so far. If you ever come to Antigua I highly recommend you to book the bean to bar workshop there because it is very interesting and fun.
The process is a lot like the coffee process because it involves roasting, fermenting and grounding. It starts with picking the pods and splitting them open to reveal the cacao beans. There can be up to 50 cacao beans in one pod. Fresh cacao beans are actually not brown at all, they are white and taste completely different to chocolate. Next the beans must do the fermenting process, by leaving the pulp and beans under palm or banana leaves. The fermentation process changes the flavour from bitter to more chocolatey. This is also when the beans turn brown. After that they are dried, cleaned and roasted and the shells are removed. Then you break the cacao beans down into coca butter and chocolate by pounding the nibs.
One of the most interesting bits I found was the different types of chocolate. Really there is only two different types of chocolate because white chocolate is actually not CHOCOLATE, it is not chocolate because it has no cacao solids in it. It is only made up of cacao butter, sugar, milk and a couple of oils, so it is really unhealthy.
They dressed us up in an apron and chef hat and we set to work on making the chocolate. The mixture was already ready so all we needed to do was pour it into the mould and decorate. There was a variety of different moulds from chocolate bars to lollypops. The decoration was my favourite because they gave you a heap of different things to sprinkle on top that makes it absolutely delicious. Then we put them in the fridge to harden.
After that we played a game. They gave us some cacao beans that we had to turn into paste in two minutes. It was fun but hard. Then we made the drinks.
We made three different drinks, including a Mayan one that the king and queen drank, a hot chocolate and a tea made out of the cacao shell. Throughout the workshop we learned a lot about the history of chocolate from Mayan times to recently. For example, the new Italian hot chocolate was the first hot chocolate to be made with milk and cinnamon, which is where the word chocolate comes from because milk in Italian is ‘latte’.
I really enjoyed this workshop because I had an amazing time, I learned heaps and I got chocolate!