Today, you can find chocolate anywhere within a five minute radius. We love chocolate. We drink it, eat it, and even have holidays dedicated to this delicacy.
Our love for chocolate is nothing new, and runs deep in the veins of the people of Ecuador. In fact, Cacao, the bean that chocolate comes from, was once used as a form of currency in Mesoamerican civilizations. Imagine shopping with a pocket full of cacao beans instead of cash!
They also created a beverage called bitter water- the ancient equivalent to hot chocolate. Bitter water was thought to be derived from the gods, and was used in different rituals and ceremonies. This ancient hot chocolate was reserved only for the elite in Aztec society, as it was believed to bring wisdom to the drinker and make them like gods. To get an idea of how much they valued chocolate we only have to look at the emperor of the Aztecs, Montezuma II, whose name translates directly to the King of Chocolate.
Although our modern currencies are no longer edible, we still use a similar process to make hot chocolate. In the Ecuadorian town of Mindo, a chocolate factory called Yumbo’s Chocolate offers chocolate-making tours. Starting with the cocoa tree and ending with the delicious chocolate we know today, guests are led through an interactive tour where they sample fresh chocolates and learn about the chocolate making process.
Yumbo’s is unique in that they purchase their cacao from an association of local farming families. This association, the Timbire Women’s Association for the Future or AMATIF, aims to ethically cultivate cacao by protecting the environment as well as the farming families. AMATIF employs traditional farming methods like planting various plant species in one plot, mirroring how they would grow in the wild. This method of farming has been shown to be better as it is less susceptible to pests and dieses. Yumbo’s Chocolate also supports the families of AMATIF by implementing training programs, and by paying a fair price for all of their produce.
So are you craving chocolate yet? Ecuatraveling offers tours to Yumbo’s award winning chocolate factory every Friday. Schedule a tour with us today!