Ecuador: How to make chocolate from seed to bar by hand

cacao fruit

High in the clouds forest below Quito there is a place where chocolate is still made by hand (almost). Here the chocolate is a pure form that pre-dates Rudlophe Lindt’s addition of cacao butter to Henri Nestlé and Daniel Peter’s milk chocolate drink to make bars.


In this photo you see an empty pod, bowl of seed, processed seeds, and final product. Now I’ll show you how it’s done.


This series of compartments are where the cacao juice is drained from the seeds.  Over three days the seeds are moved from top to bottom as less and less juice comes out. The juice was traditionally thrown away but these guys founds a new use for it which I will get to in the “tasting” section.


These are the drying racks. This rack is full of wet seeds.


This rack has nearly dried seeds.  Here in the cloud forest seeds take 7-21 days to dry enough for grinding.

Chocolate tours in Mindo

The seed on the left is not dry enough as seen by its more purple coloring.  On the right the seed is ready for the next step.DSC02211

Here the seeds are roasted…



and sorted.DSC02216

Cacoa butter is removed and the powder is ground with varying levels of sugar. This room is kept at 120F.DSC02217

The percentage of powder to sugar, of course, is the the percent cacao on the label.Molded here in the cold room

In the cold room the chocolate is put into molds and allowed to cool at a controlled temperature  for proper hardening.

Chocolate tours in Mindo Ecuador

This is pure cacao measured for baking brownies.

Where to buy organic cacao chocolate

Here is the recipe. In the coming weeks I will post a bit about tasting this chocolate.


Here are some of my food articles:

Comida típica (typical food):Ecuador and Cuy (guinea pig)
Comida típica (typical food): Colombia
The Interior of Alaskan Life 2: Preparing Thanksgiving Moose Ribs

Here are some of my travel related articles about Ecuador:

Ecuador: Las Cajas National Park

Ecuador:Bird watching in Mindo

Swimming with sea lions

Galápagos Islands: Walking amongst giants with the Galápagos land tortoise

Checklist for travel to the Galápagos Islands

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover …”

-Mark Twain

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23 thoughts on “Ecuador: How to make chocolate from seed to bar by hand

  1. You had me at chocolate.I’ve only ever used Fry’s Cocoa powder for baking and making hot chocolate. I recall one time a huge bag (it must have a 50 pound bag) broke open where my father worked and he brought it home. I had cocoa for years (it seemed). I was just a kid (back in the 70s) and had hot cocoa with toast every morning for breakfast. For some reason, I think I was the only one in the house who liked it. This was fortunately since at that time eight of siblings were still living at home.

    I wasn’t aware of the percentage of sugar to cocoa. I checked my can and it made no reference to it. Perhaps it’s a different brand or form.

    Thanks for sharing the interesting world of cocoa.


  2. Pingback: A Chocolate Story | Things that Fizz & Stuff

    • Thanks. The thing is that the owner was gringo from Indiana that was sub dividing the whole area. One of those bum ironies you run into when you find the quiet, awesome places.


  3. Pingback: Ecuador: Tasting that hand made chocolate and more | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

  4. Thanks for liking my post about the wall paintings in Oaxaca. I really enjoyed your post about chocolate in Ecuador. Oaxaca is well known for chocolate also, but I had not seen this part of the production, which must be similar in some parts. The chocolate in Oaxaca is not made into bars (as far as I know), but is used mainly for drinking and making mole. It’s possible the cacao is exported, even to another part of Mexico, and bars are made there. It would be interesting to explore this when I go back there.
    We are back in Alaska now, waiting for the snow to melt!


  5. Pingback: Places to stay in Mindo, Ecuador | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

  6. Pingback: “I just call it chicken” | ExploreDreamDiscover Talks

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