Chocolate Education Weekend In Belize!
Last weekend we had the pleasure of hosting a private group tour for a weekend of chocolate and cacao education in Belize.
Usually our group tours are comprised of existing parcel owners, who are coming down to “kick the trees” on our farms, or new clients who have been following our newsletters and are interested in getting to know us and our Belize team a bit better.
This weekend we had the pleasure of hosting some friends of ours through The Real Estate Guys Syndication and seminar circuit.
After years of meeting us at Syndication events or the annual Investor Summit at Sea, we finally had the opportunity to show them around our farming operation.
In September we have our next group cacao tour which is open to the public and scheduled for September 21st to 24th. To find out more and reserve your seat click here..
This tour started in a different order than usual as our attendees were already on Ambergris Caye where they were visiting the Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club. A Curio Collection by Hilton.
So, it made sense to start with a bean to bar chocolate making workshop at our Mahogany Chocolate store, located in the downtown village of the resort.
Abelina Chuc welcomed the group to the store with some hot and cold drinking chocolate before donning their hair-nets and starting the class.
We all know what chocolate looks like and tastes like, but most of us have no idea where it comes from or the processes it goes through to go from a seed, to a fruit, to a cacao bean to what we know as finished chocolate.
Abby started the class with the explanation of this amazing journey.
Everyone got hands on, sorting out beans, grinding nibs into cacao liquor and even making their own chocolate bars at the end.
If they get tired of traditional real estate there may be a job in Mahogany Chocolate for some of them!
After the chocolate workshop it was time to board a 14-seater Cessna and fly down to Punta Gorda, in Southern Belize, where our farming operation is located.
The first evening was spent dining on local cuisine, with fresh caught sea food, at a local seafront restaurant.
Bright and early the next morning we headed off to visit the first farm we acquired. Here Feliciano Pop, our Peini Cacao Plantation Farm Manager took them around the farm.
He pointed out the older existing trees we had inherited as well as the new saplings we planted over a year ago.
We got demonstrations in harvesting and cracking cacao pods and got to eat the raw, juicy seeds right from the pod.
Next up was a demonstration in the art of pruning and Feliciano explained how important the basic training and tools are to have a healthy cacao farm. The tools and training are currently being provided to 154 native Maya cacao farmers who are signed up to Socially Sustainable bean buying program.
We got to see the difference between grafted saplings and regular saplings as well as learning about the importance of shade management and proper drainage in a cacao farm.
There is a lot of cacao science that goes into producing high quality, fine flavour organic cacao but simple cleaning and pruning also goes a long, long way.
Left photo: Before pruning. Right photo: After pruning.
Next up we visited our newly relocated cacao sapling nursery. Home to 50,000 saplings.
30,000 of these are spoken for and are being provided Free to the Maya farmers in our program so that they can plant out their farms.
Our attendees braved the rain to tour the nursery as we heard how only the best seeds are chosen from carefully selected Mother trees, as well as the shade trees being produced to provide long term shade and a balanced ecosystem in our farms.
Then it was up to meet Samuel Tzui in our fermentation and drying depot. The depot was a bit quieter than normal as buying season is over and the 25 metric tonnes of cacao we acquired this year has already been fermented dried, sorted and bagged.
Sam knew we were coming so he had some sample batches prepared so that we could see the sorting and indirect sun drying as well as demonstrating the cut-test on a batch of dried and fermented beans.
We explained our plans to expand our facility to handle the increased production over the coming years. As we add more farmers to our program and as our own 3 farms start to produce.
Plans are in place to implement mechanised drying to ensure we can handle larger volumes regardless of the weather and to get to that precise 7.5% moisture content we need.
More on the new development later!
Our group tour is now only a few weeks away so if you want to come down to beautiful Belize and see all of this, and more, for yourself, then just check out the itinerary in our Farm Tour section of the website and sign up to reserve your seat!
To make the most of your trip to the Tropics…September is also party month in Belize!
With lots of national holidays you can extend your stay and join in the celebrations, visit some ancient Maya ruins and check out the beach!
All while learning how to diversify your assets offshore and create generational wealth for your family.
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