chocolate makers of Costa Rica

I hope you’ve enjoyed the series of posts I’ve done about my visit to Costa Rica for the 2014 Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival. I’ve already introduced you to Caribeans Chocolate. And Nahua Chocolate. In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to a few more terrific Costa Rican chocolate makers.

costa-rica-chocolate

Henrik Bodholdt

Henrik Bodholdt is an expat European and founder of Chocolate Craft of Costa Rica. I loved the Lava bar, with just the right hint of heat, the Celeste bar with its fruity notes, and the Tenorio, which is an incredibly smooth and full-flavoured chocolate that Henrik made under the Beach Chocolate label. But being a devoted chocolate educator and innovative chocolate maker, Henrik went on to found Maleku Chocolate and in 2016 began growing his own cacao. The Maleku Chocolate Factory is located in the Blue Valley of the Upala region of northern Costa Rica, and makes a trio of 60, 75, and 90% cocoa chocolate bars made from the cacao beans that they grow themselves.

Tao Watts is the chief chocolate maker at Samaritan Xocolata, located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in Perez Zeledon. Tao is an expat originally from Maryland USA, and now long-time resident of Costa Rica whose chocolate creations are as beautiful to look at as they are delectable to taste. Tao is a true artisan who adds a beautiful femininity to the chocolate truffles, bonbons, barks, bars and custom confections offered in Samaritan’s line of products. Of the ones I was able to taste, I really loved the Solo Bueno! wave bar, an explosion of 70% dark organic cocoa infused with coconut nectar crystals, chia, sesame, figs, blueberries, ginseng, chili, and more. These are available for worldwide shipping via Samaritan’s site. Yay!

Samaritan Xocolata

Another woman who is passionate about chocolate and who is growing some amazing cacao in the Puerto Viejo area is Christina Orr, an expat originally from California, USA, whose chocolate company is called Talamanca Organica Cacao and Chocolate.

Christina Orr

A conservationist and experienced gardener who has passionately brought that knowledge to the cacao fields, Christina is dedicated to creating just the right flavour profile in her cocoa beans by experimenting in the fermentation method of her beans. Christina ferments each harvest of beans separately so that she can very precisely control the development of the flavour in her customized fermentation box. She has only recently began making chocolate from her beans and it will be interesting to see how her chocolate develops over time.

Xocolat Chocolate

Pascal Blanchard dressed as Willy Wonka and his wife Kari Gabriel dressed as the Golden Goddess at the 2014 Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival.

Yes, I found some talented expat Canadians who are growing cacao and making chocolate in Costa Rica, too. Pascal Blanchard from the Eastern Townships of Quebec and his wife Kari Gabriel (who grew up in British Columbia, Canada, but was actually born in Costa Rica) are making chocolate products under the name Xocolat Chocolate. They have a small farm in the Puerto Viejo area, and in addition to producing award-winning chocolate, make fabulous crisps infused with cocoa nibs that they market as Cacao Coast Crackers. I loved them! People often ask me what they can do with cocoa nibs. Dropping them into almost anything will enhance the resulting flavour. But adding fresh cocoa nibs into a tasty batter for baked crisps is a winning recipe that this dynamic duo should market on a wide scale. For now … you’ve got to go to Costa Rica to get some. A small stock of Xocolat Chocolate bars can be found on sale at Caribeans Chocolate in Puerto Viejo.

Like it’s neighbouring country of Belize, Costa Rica is growing cacao of incredible quality that is being made into sensuous chocolate by this wonderfully passionate group of Costa Rican chocolate makers. Join me on a small group customized Chocolatour to Costa Rica January 11-19, 2020, when we’ll meet some of the artisans making chocolate and growing cacao in Costa Rica.

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.

22 Responses

  1. Tracie Howe says:

    It’s great to know who is making the chocolates. Now I want to know, where can I get those chocolates in the U.S.?! I want to run out and buy some every time I read your posts! πŸ™‚
    Tracie Howe recently posted…Visiting Cemeteries in New OrleansMy Profile

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    How fun that would be… Move to Costa Rica and grow chocolate for a living. Or even just go to Costa Rica and eat all the different types of chocolate! πŸ™‚
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Kiss Your Life: #StoryMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Susan: Yes, that’s what really impressed me about the community of Puerto Viejo. Almost everyone was an expat from somewhere else, and they had moved there to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and create a new life for themselves. I LOVE that, as I’ve been wanting to move away from this frigid climate for I live for almost 30 years! Family obligations have continued to hold me back. But hopefully … one day … I, too, will be able to follow my dreams to the tropics. πŸ™‚
      Doreen recently posted…chocolate makers of Costa RicaMy Profile

  3. Rachel says:

    Every time I read your posts, I get cravings for chocolate!

  4. Annie Martin says:

    I would have loved to have gone on a Chocolate tour while we were in Costa Rica, but we didn’t find the time. Every time I read your posts I want chocolate!! Your blog is bad for my diet. πŸ˜‰ It was really interesting to see that many of the growers are expats. Thanks for sharing!
    Annie Martin recently posted…The 5’6β€³, Brunette, Brown-Eyed ToddlerMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Annie and thanks for your comment. what part of Costa Rica were you in?

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog, but don’t feel that you have to go to sweet, unhealthy chocolate to satisfy your craving. Head for the healthy stuff! A handful of raw cocoa nibs as a snack or in your yogurt will satisfy the chocolate craving and provide you with the health benefits of the healthiest pure food on the planet!
      Doreen recently posted…chocolate makers of Costa RicaMy Profile

  5. Chris says:

    Great to see you helping some of these small producers have a face (and a voice)!

    Hope that it was all delicious as well πŸ™‚
    Chris recently posted…Our Monthly Wrap #8: 27 January 2015 – 26 February 2015My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Chris: Yes, the chocolate was indeed delicious. Each produced slightly differently, but with that distinctly Costa Rican flavour. And yes, I’m thrilled to be able to help raise the profile of these terrific people who are so dedicated to creating chocolate in a pure and simple way. Thanks for stopping by the blog.
      Doreen recently posted…chocolate makers of Costa RicaMy Profile

  6. Catarina says:

    Would love to live in Costa Rica and make chocolate for a living. Not least this time of the year when it’s all grey and dull outside. All these producers would actually benefit from the Fair Trade label, if they don’t already have it. About half of consumers would be happy to pay more for their chocolate if it was produced the ethical way demanded by the Fair Trade organisation.
    Catarina recently posted…Do you buy Fair Trade Products?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina: Yes, I believe Henrik Bodholdt is originally from Denmark–not too far from your homeland of Sweden. I know that he is thoroughly enjoying his new life in Costa Rica.

      Most of these artisans I have profiled are growing just a small amount of cacao and creating chocolate with it. They are truly tree to bean to bar producers. So the issue of fair trade is not a primary factor in their operations. But growing sustainably is. Thanks for stopping by the blog.
      Doreen recently posted…chocolate makers of Costa RicaMy Profile

  7. Chocolate is a divine substance. Am craving some now!
    Renee Johnson recently posted…Good News!My Profile

  8. Cecilia says:

    It is always great to get information which normally isn’t available. I’m very grateful, thanks.
    Cecilia recently posted…Top 3 Cord Winder for Wires, Headphones, Ear-buds under $10My Profile

  9. You make me want to go to Costa Rica just to try the chocolate!
    Rose M Griffith recently posted…Snotnose 38 and Other Childhood TraumasMy Profile

  10. Thank you Doreen for the kind words in your article! I do not speak for all of the chocolate makers here in Costa Rica but I do believe my colleagues and I are part of a growing conscience about high quality, no-nonsense chocolate (no lecithin!!) and it has been a thrill to be able to get inspiration from each other through events like the chocolate festival. Your visit was definitely a sign that the big World is watching (and tasting!) and I personally am thrilled to be able to make chocolate enthusiasts happy.
    Henrik Bodholdt recently posted…Interview with Doreen PendgracsMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Henrik.

      I think the Costa Rican chocolate makers have an advantage in that there does seem to be a joint movement of camaraderie and collaboration. You’re all working together to advance the quality of your craft and to get the word out to chocolate lovers of the world. Keep on doing what you’re doing! πŸ™‚
      Doreen recently posted…Nahua Chocolate: Gem of San JoseMy Profile

  11. Alex Thome says:

    Henrik-

    We’ll be in Ptrero on March 19-20. How can we sign up for your workshop?

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