Chocolate Grows on Trees at Hacienda Chocolat Cocoa Farm
I don’t know about you, but I love all things chocolate, so a visit to this cocoa (or cacao) farm was a must! Hacienda Chocolat is a private farm that is focused on making Puerto Rico a leader in quality cocoa production. Located in Fajardo, on the eastern side of the El Yunque, the farm gets ideal conditions to grow cocao (and some other crops, too!). Owner Yadira Vázquez is joining the agro-tourism movement, with walking tours of the farm and glamping sites (coming soon!), so that more people can learn about growing food and enjoy being part of nature.
The farm, which is forested, has many different varieties of trees (fruiting and otherwise). They also have planted about 3000 cocao trees. Unlike the large cocoa producers in Africa, Hacienda Chocolat grows about 10 different varieties of cocoa, and the beans all get processed together. This gives them a diverse genetic profile, enabling them to have a better quality end product with diverse flavor profiles. They call it “cocoa fina y aroma” (fine aroma cocoa).
The tour starts at their eco-friendly visitor center. Then you walk (maybe ½ mile) through the cocoa trees learning all about cocao production. This part is at a slow pace, talking and walking for about 1 hour with frequent stops. You learn how the trees grow, what they need, how to prune/harvest, and get the seeds ready for market. It is really pretty and interesting. They call this tour from bush to bean. It is amazing to see the different colors of cocoa pods, and see the work that goes into growing and caring for these trees. They answer any and all questions about the farm/trees/process.
Then you circle back to the visitors center where they explain the next steps — fermenting, drying, and processing the beans into chocolate. Actually seeing this last part (bean to bar) will be a future tour. Their goal is to produce the best dark chocolate bar, made 100% in Puerto Rico. This is a goal soon to be made a reality, but until they are ready, they sell most of their cocoa crop to local chocolate producers.
During this last part of the tour they offer fresh fruit snacks, and samples of all things chocolate — from the seed with pulp, dried cocoa nibs, hot chocolate, quality dark chocolate bar, cocoa fruit jam, and more! The views from the property are wonderful. And we went home with some other produce grown on the farm! What is not to like?
The cost of the Bush to Bean Cocoa Farm walking tour is $34 per person (15 years old and up). There is a different tour for younger kids, for $28 per person.
You will be walking about a ½ mile on farm roads / packed dirt, so wear appropriate (closed toe) shoes. The road could be muddy, and it may even rain on you.
You will be required to sign a release form prior to starting the tour.
Allow about 2.5 hours for the tour, start to finish.
Tours are available in Spanish or English.
The Hacienda Chocolat farm is located in Fajardo. They will send you a “pin” for the parking area prior to your tour (we are purposely not including their location). Parking is at the bottom of their (steep) driveway. They have a cart to shuttle you from the parking area. The sign at the parking area says “Hotelito”.
PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it!