Caribeans Chocolate of Puerto Viejo

If you’re like me, you look for unique and local flavours from places you visit and seek out gifts and souvenirs that highlight those flavours. No surprise, my primary focus is on the sustainable chocolate of any given place, and I’m always thrilled when a chocolate shop I visit has travellers in mind.



Such is definitely the case with Caribeans Organic Artisan Chocolate in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. It was thanks to Paul Johnson of Caribeans–pictured above in his cacao plantation–that I was able to make my way to Puerto Viejo and be a judge at their 2014 chocolate festival. We met online (I believe it was via Twitter) and a post by one of Paul’s colleagues on the facebook page of the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival alerted me to the fact that there was a major chocolate event happening in a country I was anxious to explore. I’m thrilled that it all worked out, and even more thrilled with the stash of chocolate, cacao (cocoa beans and nibs), and coffee I brought home with me from Caribeans. The coffee and cocoa beans and nibs are packaged in durable plastic that easily survives a journey around the world.

Paul Johnson is a fan of cigars, so he patterned his climate-controlled "choclador" chocolate tasting room in the ambiance of a humidor used to store and showcase cigars.

Paul Johnson is a fan of cigars, so he patterned his climate-controlled “choclador” chocolate tasting room in the ambiance of a humidor used to store and showcase cigars.

And what about the chocolate? Well, it’s not for sissies. Caribeans chocolate is conched for only 24-36 hours, so it not the silky smooth chocolate you may have tried in other places. It is pure, and quite intense. All bars are made from 72% sustainable cacao except the milk chocolate. It’s nice and thin, and has a good snap to it. It authentic handcrafted chocolate, and only contains cacao, some cane sugar, and whatever natural flavourings may be included to create a special bar. Like the “Tequila Shot” bar that contains the leaves of Johnson’s own lime tree and some granulated sea salt. I love it, and will have to try it with a shot of tequila!

Paul and his wife Jeanne are excellent marketers, and give you the option of purchasing tiny 25-gram bars in a multitude of flavours (also available online), or the 150-gram larger “Special Reserve” bars featuring the finest cacao beans Caribeans has to offer.

Jeanne Sanborn Johnson welcomes you with a tasting tray of single origin chocolate.

Jeanne Sanborn Johnson welcomes you with a tasting tray of single origin chocolate.

It’s really worth taking the Caribeans Chocolate Forest Experience Chocolate Tour that shows you how Caribeans grows its cacao and makes its chocolate. The price is just $28USD for a three-hour tour that includes a fabulous guided tasting experience featuring this view! Private tours can be scheduled in advance for $32 per person. If you really want to go all out and experience the world of Caribeans Chocolate and The Mango Walk guesthouse I profiled in the previous post, I recommend indulging in the “Chocolate Makers Dream” vacation. I guarantee you will leave a changed person, having learned all about this amazing chocolate destination of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

chocolate tour


Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

16 Responses

  1. Jeanette Sturm says:

    My husband and I traveled to your side of Costa Rica several years ago. I found flavored chocolate in a small store, I am hoping that your company is the chocolate I bought. It had several different flavors that I loved. If this is you please let me know as I would love to order.

    • Hello Jeannette. I do not make chocolate. Please contact Caribeans Chocolate directly via the link in my post about them and you can be directly in touch with the owners, Jeanne and Paul.

  2. Alba says:

    This is really interesting, You are a very
    skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more
    of your great post. Also, I have shared your website in my social
    Alba recently posted…AlbaMy Profile

  3. dinesh says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Awesome post which contains very useful information about chocolate travel diversions. Very interesting and informative article. I liked it. Thanks for sharing views. Have a great week ahead.

  4. Fabiana says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I did a chocolate tour in Guatemala and also loved the experience.
    Fabiana recently posted…Top 5 bars for a night out in EdinburghMy Profile

  5. Hey Doreen, What a great reason to travel, chocolate! There is a place on Brick Lane in London called Dark Sugars that sells handmade chocolate truffles and i believe they get their Cocoa from Ghana..? I tried the raw beans and it was really great, I loved it. They sprinkle chunks of it on top of their hot chocolate. it’s delish!

    • Thx for your comment, Lissie. I don’t believe I’ve tried the truffles from Dark Sugars, but I’d like to! Yes, Ghana does grow some fine cocoa in addition to the bulk grade stuff you find in the cheaper bands of chocolate. The chunks of cocoa beans are called cocoa nibs and they’re great sprinkled on top of yogurt or ice-cream, mixed in with granola and eaten as a healthy snack. I love them!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…another evening of chocolate enjoymentMy Profile

  6. Cheryl says:

    Well now that kind of chocolate sounds interesting. I think the most adventurous chocolate I have had was in Europe and it did not contain sugar. What a surprise taste that was! This sounds more appetizing.
    Cheryl recently posted…#Dyslexie Font: Aid for #DyslexiaMy Profile

  7. Chocolate with a shot of tequila? Never thought of that but I always imagine the bar of chocolate as something necessarily sweet, but it doesn’t have to be. Those 70, 80% chocolates aren’t my “cup of tea” but I realize, this is the real chocolate and not those 1 EUR craps sold in markets.
    Milan Bardun recently posted…Las Vegas – Púštna mekka gamblerovMy Profile

    • Hello Milan and Thx for your comment. You’d be surprised how well chocolate pairs with many different libations. We had a whole evening of that during the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Fest (stay tuned for a future post on this) and I have a chapter on pairings in my book, Chocolatour.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Can you write a book?My Profile

  8. Chris says:

    It is true a lot of people would turn their noses (and tongues) up at the thought of some grainy, traditional chocolate, but I quite like the stuff!

    Glad you’ve found another stunning location in which to indulge your passion!:-)
    Chris recently posted…Colourful CampecheMy Profile

    • Hi Chris and Thx for your comment. I admit to preferring a smoother style of chocolate, as I find it to be more sensual in the mouth. Many chocolate makers add extra cocoa butter to increase the silliness of their chocolate. I know that Paul at Caribeans is considering doing this. I think it might be a good idea.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Can you write a book?My Profile

  9. OB says:

    Very nice! The only trouble for me – going on such a holiday, I doubt I’ll want to go back home. I devour so much of this stuff that perhaps it’s high time I pack my bags for Latin America, maybe for good…

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