enjoying the chocolate tours at Hotel Chocolat Boucan

Our time on St. Lucia was a week of utter chocolate bliss. As mentioned in the previous post, we had three glorious days at Hotel Chocolat Boucan, a boutique property owned by British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat and situated on the 140-acre Rabot Estate, the island’s longest-producing cacao plantation, operational since 1745.

We toured the estate with cocoa production manager, Cuthbert Monroque, who explained that unlike nearby South America, the biggest problem his cacao-growing team has to deal with is rats. Yes, there are so many rats trying to bite into the sweet pulp of the ripening cocoa pods that Monroque has had to establish a rat-drowning regiment to keep things under control. This photo shows how a rat chewed his way into a pod and ate the flesh and cocoa beans from within.

cocoa-pods-and-rats

the pod on the left was eaten by a rat

Another challenge for St. Lucian cocoa growers are mushroom spores, which spread the fungus that has been destroying some of the crop. As Rabot Estate is an organic property, no pesticides or fungicides are used.

The resort offers a “Tree to Bean” tour as well as a “Bean to Bar” tour to help chocolate lovers understand how cacao is grown and how the beans are harvested, cleaned, fermented, dried, and processed to make chocolate. We grafted seedlings and put our name on them so that we could return in future and see the cacao tree that we helped create.

grafting-a-seedling

Cuthbert shows us how to graft a cacao seedling

Cuthbert makes a special tea that he uses to fertilize the seedlings, and that, combined with a special manure mixture help make the cacao trees strong and healthy. Grafting the seedlings helps reduce the time it takes for them to bear fruit. Without grafting it may take up to three years for a cacao tree to produce pods. With grafting, that period may be reduced to as little as 18 months.

making-chocolate

hand grinding cocoa nibs to make chocolate is no easy task, but is so worthwhile

We ground cocoa nibs with a pestle and mortar and saw them slowly turn into molten chocolate. It was a lot of hard work, but worth it to see the dry cocoa granules slowly turn to cocoa liquor, a liquid form of chocolate that we added cocoa butter and sugar to, resulting in our very own personalized chocolate bar.

I’d highly recommend a visit to Hotel Chocolat Boucan and St. Lucia for any chocolate lover who wants to learn more about the chocolate making and growing process while staying at a luxury resort with amazing cuisine.

Have you had a chocolate experience like this? Have you ever tried hand-grinding cocoa nibs and making chocolate from it?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

47 Responses

  1. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh wow, we just think of that delicious chocolate bar and not how it get to that state. We never consider the challenges a farmer faces harvesting cocoa beans. Rats?… All I can say is yuck!! Beside that the whole tour looked like a blast.
    Susan Cooper recently posted…On The Beach: StoryMy Profile

  2. Doreen — I’m still so envious of all the wonderful trips — and chocolate tastings — you’ve experienced. You’ve become the Chocolate Diva!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Do Community Managers and Social Media Managers Have Different Roles?My Profile

  3. Salika Jay says:

    Liquid chocolate sounds absolutely delicious. I’m yet to have an experience like this but really enjoy reading about your journeys as always.
    Salika Jay recently posted…Kefalonia: If It’s Good Enough For Captain CorelliMy Profile

  4. Geek Girl says:

    I think this is great! I love getting to see and understand what goes in to making a chocolate bar. I am SO glad to be along for the ride. 🙂
    Geek Girl recently posted…Author Interview – Forest BeckMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Yay, Cheryl! It’s great having you along for the ride. Just as I don’t enjoy solitary travel, I really enjoy having my friends, supporters, and chocolate lovers along with me on these virtual journeys as well.

  5. Joy says:

    Wow! By just looking and reading your blog, I want to munch on some chocolates right now!!!

  6. Purnima says:

    Nice share Doreen .
    These trips and chocolate tastings envy me. Chocolates always fascinate me and your share increases the temptation . Enjoyed the share.
    Purnima recently posted…Kim Wilde Drunk Christmas Impromtu Performance on British RailMy Profile

  7. Catarina says:

    Sounds and looks fantastic Doreen. And not to forget, delicious. Would love to get on a plane right now and spoil myself there. A storm so bad they are warning people to go outdoors is about to hit Southern Sweden and Denmark..
    Catarina recently posted…Should women be as ambitious as men?My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Oh, dear! Stay safe, Catarina! Hopefully, your weather will soon tame down and all will be well again.

      I’ve not yet personally explored chocolate in your region, but have certainly enjoyed eating some. Oialla from Copenhagen is the best from Scandinavia that I have tried to date. Have you tasted it?

  8. Stacey says:

    I envy you a lot, and every time I tend to read your posts, it grew bigger and bigger! LOL! 🙂 I’m so happy for you, thankful also for sharing this with us! I’m inspired to do the same! 🙂

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hello Stacey and thanks for your comment. The good thing about fine artisanal chocolate is that it is not too fattening. Just eat one bonbon, truffle or piece of a dark chocolate bar and it won’t put the pounds on.

  9. Kelly Wade says:

    This sounds like an amazing experience! Grinding fresh cocoa beans into your very own pure chocolate, that is really awesome. It will be cool to go back there one day and see how much the cocoa plant you helped plant has grown. Yum, now I’m craving chocolate.
    Kelly Wade recently posted…The 5 Most Beneficial Yoga PosesMy Profile

  10. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    I envy any experience such as getting to grind the beans to make pure chocolate. So much about the process behind creating various foods often gets lost on people, including myself.
    Jeri recently posted…JeriWB Writes: Such is Life (My Short Story Collection)My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks, Jeri. That’s indeed why I’m writing the book. I know that people like to travel. And I know that they enjoy fine chocolate. So I have married the two concepts and hope that readers will venture out for some enticing chocolate travel. Stay tuned!

  11. Kristine says:

    Now I feel more envious of your chocolate trips, Doreen. I would love to have adventures same as yours. I really enjoyed reading your post, plus the pictures are really good. Keep writing about your trips and continue to share it with us. 🙂
    Kristine recently posted…Architecture and nature co-existing happily together – is it possible?My Profile

  12. Emilia says:

    The more I read about your chocolate adventures, the more I get jealous. 😉 You’re so lucky to have trips like this and taste chocolates. I may not have the same adventure, but I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your trips to us. 🙂

  13. Fatima says:

    Loved the chocolaty trip indeed! Thanks for the trip.

  14. Doreen – what an amazing experience! I hope to return to St. Lucia one day and if so I would love to experience this wonderful property and chocolate adventure! Thanks for sharing; I’ll place a link on our website so our fans and friends can read about it too!

  15. Aayna says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Whenever I read your posts, it seems as if I am diving in the chocolate waters. The post is indeed delicious with great pictures. Thanks for sharing the tempting share.

  16. Kelly says:

    I love chocolates. I want to try this tour with my kids about chocolates. This is something worth trying especially by chocoholics like me.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Kelly: The chocolate events I have highlighted here on St. Lucia are not intended for children. They are held at high-end resorts which target their programs to adults and children over age 14. I know that there are quite a few chocolate destinations such as Hershey, Pennsylvania in the US and World Chocolate Dream Park in Shanghai, China that focus more on smaller children. Enjoy your chocolate travels, and stay tuned to this blog for more info!
      Doreen recently posted…Chocolatouring: enjoying the chocolate tours at Hotel Chocolat BoucanMy Profile

  17. Calra says:

    Chocolate and nothing but chocolate. You’re a girl after my own heart Doreen! I’ll be sure to check out the hotel that you have featured in your post for today. I’m planning on a cruise, maybe a trip around the world this year as part of my dreams.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Calra: St. Lucia is definitely a port on many Caribbean cruises. However, the ships doc in Castries, which is in the northern part of the island. Most of the cocoa is grown on the southern part of the island near the city of Soufriere. You may be able to take an excursion or hire a taxi to take you to the cocoa belt, but instead, I’d recommend a visit to come, stay, and become immersed in the world of chocolate.
      Doreen recently posted…Chocolatouring: enjoying the chocolate tours at Hotel Chocolat BoucanMy Profile

  18. Sandra says:

    A new kind of educational tour that I want to try as a chocoholic. If I can grow cocoa in my backyard, I will surely do it. Thanks for this information.

  19. Veronica says:

    Hello again Doreen! I just love how you project your love for chocolate in your website. It’s very refreshing to read posts about the things that you love, like little indulgences such as chocolates. Hotel Chocolat Boucan? That would be on my list this year for my vacation getaway!

  20. Lee says:

    Hi Doreen
    Shouldn’t keep reading your posts with the word chocolate everywhere gets my taste buds going to much. Right I have just been looking for airline tickets to the Caribbean. Friends of ours that we sailed with in the med have just gone across to Antigua. Thought with the economic climate there would be some cheap air tickets. Wrong. Looking for other strategies now. One was fly in to Miami then try to get a cheap ticket across from there. Or sometimes you get cheap last minute holidays and just use the flights.

    Any ideas lee await reply
    Lee recently posted…Stainless Vacuum flaskMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Lee: Glad to have you onboard! If you’re looking for a Caribbean island that features a great chocolate experience, St. Lucia is tops. But Grenada, Trinidad, Dominican Republic are growing great cacao and making good chocolate as well as having tours to cocoa plantations.

      Sorry, I haven’t been to Antigua, nor do I know much about it or possible travel deals. We do, however, have several travel agents who regularly read this blog and I invite them to get in touch with you privately with suggestions. Have a super trip!

  21. Jessica says:

    I think this is great! I love getting to see and understand what goes in to making a chocolate bar.

  22. JobaerAhmmed says:

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  23. Hi Doreen! I am a travel website owner for tours to India and it is sounds good to find travel blog to know.
    Thanks for sharing…..

  24. Aras Androck says:

    That must be some big ass rat. lol
    Aras Androck recently posted…http://www.couponhuntr.comMy Profile

  25. This sounds like such an interesting experience, usually we don’t get to see how chocolate is made, so being able to sample it direct from the source really is quite something!

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