Nahua Chocolate and Cacao, San Jose, Costa Rica

Whether you arrive in Costa Rica by air or cruise ship, you are likely to pass through the capital city of San Jose. Here, you will find a terrific collection of heritage buildings and national museums.

National Theatre

The National Theatre of Costa Rica was built in 1897 and is situated in San Jose.

I had the great pleasure of taking a day tour of San Jose back in 2001, and then returning in 2014 for a quick visit. Here are a few of the highlights:

The Inter-Americana Highway was built in the 1940’s with funding from the US. There therefore is a prominent American presence in Costa Rica, and specifically in San Jose, where you will find many American expats and American brands in stores (such as Walmart and Costco), restaurants (such as Pizza Hut) and hotels (such as Holiday Inn and Best Western.)

enjoying the pure vida in costa rica

The national motto of Costa Rica is “Pura Vida,” meaning pure life. You will see this on T-shirts and logos everywhere. You can indeed create a pure and simple life for yourself in Costa Rica, as I witnessed in Puerto Viejo, where nearly everyone I met was originally from the US and had left the fast lane behind to enjoy a slower and more simpler life in Costa Rica.

morpho butterfly

There are approximately 1,500 species of orchids in Costa Rica, making the orchid the national flower. And the iconic blue Morpho butterfly is the largest butterfly in Costa Rica, making this tiny Central American country a haven for naturalists.

Costa Rica is also a haven for chocolate lovers. As we learned in the past few posts, there are numerous small-batch artisanal chocolate makers in the Puerto Viejo and Upala regions of Costa Rica. In this post, I’d like to introduce you to Nahua Chocolate.

nahua-chocolate

Juan Pablo Buchert of Nahua Chocolate is President of the Costa Rica Cacao Chamber.

nahua chocolate is great chocolate made in costa rica

Nahua Cacao and Chocolate is owned by Juan Pablo Buchert, an expat from Argentina married to Karla, a beautiful Costa Rican national, who were kind enough to host me during my time in San Jose. Juan Pablo is the person who has most educated me on the subject of sustainability in the world of chocolate. The concept of sustainability is far more important than fair trade or organic as it means that both the environment and the farmers have been cared for in the growing and sale of the cacao. I will be writing more about this in the future.

Nahua’s shade-grown cacao is provided by more than 300 farmers in the Upala region, where the cocoa is processed at the Upala Fermentation Centre. The fermented cocoa beans are then dried and transported to the Nahua Chocolate Factory in Ciudad Cariari, Heredia (near San Jose), where they roasted and made into 27 varieties of bars (tablets). Chocolate bonbons and truffles are also made fresh at this location. Be sure to check the Nahua Chocolate site if you plan to visit Costa Rica, as is it now sold in more than 250 locations throughout the country.

nahua-chocolate

You can watch fresh chocolate being made at Nahua. You can also take chocolate classes. Check their website or facebook page for details, if you will be visiting Costa Rica.

nahua-chocolate

Nahua chocolate in san jose costa rica

If you visit San Jose, be sure to tour the city centre and the heritage buildings. But remember to also take time and enjoy some terrific Costa Rican chocolate and local fresh-roasted coffee during your visit, as Costa Rica is famous for both!

Have you been to San Jose? What was your experience like? Let’s talk about Costa Rica!

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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.

46 Responses

  1. Chris
    Twitter:
    says:

    You’re forgetting people like us (who arrived by bus)!

    We quite enjoyed San Jose, a lovely place to spend a day or two… however, for the backpacker, San Jose (and Costa Rica in general) is a very expensive place to visit, partly due to the many expats you’ve already mentioned (parts of Mexico are the same).

    Sadly, we only had a small sample of Costa Rican chocolate in La Fortuna, and it was a little disappointing…
    Chris recently posted…Jungle BrewMy Profile

  2. Your posts always make me hungry for chocolate. You must have a wonderful time hunting down the best beans.
    Renee Johnson recently posted…Justen Ahren Demystifies his Monastic Approach to WritingMy Profile

  3. Rachel
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’m with Renée! 6:30 in the morning and I’m craving chocolate! I’m going to start keeping track for you, Doreen, when I come upon special chocolates!

  4. The chocolates of Nahua look like art work!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Paris gets a little more chic with hotel openingsMy Profile

  5. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Doreen, Costa Rica has always been high on my list of places to visit some day. I’ve known people that have retired down there and have nothing but good things. If I do ever make it, I’ll definitely try the chocolate. But that holds true for whatever country I visit. Lol
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Labeled?!?!: #StoryMy Profile

  6. I’ve been to Costa Rica many times but never tried Nahua Chocolate – how could I have missed it??? I’ll be going to Guanacaste next week so hope I can find some at the Liberia airport. You’ve inspired me to think chocolate when I think Costa Rica
    Michele Peterson recently posted…Mango and Black Bean SalsaMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Michele: Yes, I think you will be pleased if you read the series of posts I’ve done about Costa Rican chocolate and look out for the ones I have highlighted. They’re all good, but each is different than the other. I don’t know where Guanacaste is, so I don’t think any of the ones I met are from that area, but as you mention, there may be some at the airport. I did see Britt Chocolate at the airport in San Jose, and it is OK, but not the same as the handcrafted small batch artisan chocolate I have been recommending to my readers.
      Doreen recently posted…the importance of trustMy Profile

  7. Doreen, I’ve never been to Costa Rica either. I know that many Americans live there because they feel more comfortable then they would be in other Latin American countries. I would find it difficult to leave the good old USA. Maybe I’m too used to life in the fast lane!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Life After Fifty and the “Brand” New YouMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Jeannette: I left the “fast lane” back in 1982 and moved to the country. Lived there 25 years and then in 2007, moved to a lakeside resort community. Love it,too. But … a tropical BEACHSIDE community with a welcoming, laid back vibe is definitely on my wish list for retirement.
      Doreen recently posted…Nahua Chocolate: Gem of San JoseMy Profile

  8. Shelley says:

    I haven’t visited Costa Rica yet, but I would love to. Even more so now that I know there is good chocolate there!
    Shelley recently posted…Letting Go of Our Inhibitions at a Historic Turkish BathMy Profile

  9. Wow ~ Costa Rica seems like a million miles away from me here in Australia, but gee…. you’ve certainly got the taste buds going and such a yearning to visit this magical and chocolatey place!
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…Packing List for Travel Journallers Who Want to be More ArtyMy Profile

  10. Costa Rica remains stubbornly on my bucket list, but when I do visit I will be sure to sample some Nahua chocolate.

  11. Sue Reddel
    Twitter:
    says:

    I had no idea that Costa Rica had such marvelous chocolate. Yet another reason to put it on the must-travel-to list. Thanks!
    Sue Reddel recently posted…Super Cool Housewares ShowMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Nor did I, Sue! Until I visited the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Fest and met all the chocolate makers! That’s why chocolatourism is so much fun! You get to travel to different parts of the world and see how different the chocolate looks and tastes from country to country. Thx for stopping by the blog for a taste of the fun. 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…Nahua Chocolate: Gem of San JoseMy Profile

  12. We spent several weeks in Costa Rica exploring both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts (including Puerto Viejo) and loved the country. Although we sampled a few different chocolates I’m sure, if I’d tasted the Nahua Chocolates I’d remember them. They look fabulous and I’m drooling over the beautiful candies pictured. So glad you were able to visit the National Theater which was a beautiful historical site that we enjoyed.
    Anita recently posted…The Two Queens of Curacao: One Swings, One SoarsMy Profile

  13. Tracie Howe
    Twitter:
    says:

    San Jose is a great city! One I haven’t spent nearly enough time in. Those chocolates are so pretty!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…Part 2: Only one day to visit New Orleans? What to do?My Profile

  14. Cheryl
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have not been to Costa Rica but my husband and I have discussed visiting several times.
    Cheryl recently posted…Where in the World is Geek Grandma?My Profile

  15. Catarina says:

    Abolutely love the design of the Nahua chocolates. They really are works of art. Have never been to Costa Rica but if I go I will definitely pay a visit.
    Catarina recently posted…Are night owls more intelligent than early birds?My Profile

  16. Great post! I just got back from San Jose and am sad to have missed Nahua, which I hadn’t heard of before reading this post. Will definitely have to check them out next time we’re up there. From reading your blog, it looks like you covered a lot of chocolate ground in Costa Rica 🙂 One other place I’d recommend is La Iguana Chocolate in Mastatal. We visited them recently and it was an awesome experience. Small, family-run operation that is just branching out into commercial chocolate.
    Jenn Turnbull recently posted…A Jungle Night Tour with Tracie the Bug LadyMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thx for the tip, Jenn. I’ve not heard of La Iguana Chocolate. There are a few others that I sampled while in Costa Rica, but didn’t include them all in my posts as I’ve got to move on! I’ve got 3 trips that I still have to write up before I take my next one this coming weekend! Safe travels, and thx for stopping by.
      Doreen recently posted…Nahua Chocolate: Gem of San JoseMy Profile

  17. Sky says:

    I was in San Jose only overnight as, unfortunately, I was under the impression that there wasn’t much to do there. However, I do wish I had known about Nahua Chocolate because, well, mmm chocolate!
    Sky recently posted…Visiting The World’s Only Sloth SanctuaryMy Profile

  18. Sally says:

    I love this blog. What an amazing idea! Costa Rica is on my list for next year! The list is growing very big!
    Sally recently posted…The Thailand Visa Exemption extension Saga 2015My Profile

  19. Freddy Falck says:

    The picture of those square shaped chocolate truffles just made me drool! I have never tried Nahua Chocolate but will definitely make it a point to drop in the next time I am in the area just so I can dig into those tempting truffles. Wish we could order them online every time we got the craving!

  20. I plan on going to Sedona as part of my spiritual journey.

  21. Whether it is possible to find these chocolates in the place of The Dubai Mall???

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      I don’t believe that Central American chocolate makers have yet begun to expand as far flung as the UAE. They are all small producers, and their industry is in the fledgling state of development. I found it interesting how many European chocolatiers are selling their chocolate in Dubai! The world is certainly shrinking. Thanks for your comment.
      Doreen recently posted…riding the Big Bus in MiamiMy Profile

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