Visiting La Fortuna and looking for the best chocolate tour in Costa Rica? Chocolate, one of the world’s delicacies, is grown and produced right here in the Alajuela region, making a Costa Rica chocolate tour one of the best things to do in La Fortuna.
As a top producing region in the country and the world for that matter, La Fortuna contains the top chocolate tour Costa Rica has to offer. On La Fortuna chocolate tours in Costa Rica, you will learn about the growing, producing and selling of cacao, plus you will be able to taste some of the best chocolate on earth!
La Fortuna also offers a few great Costa Rica coffee tour options that are incorporated with chocolate to give you the best of both worlds.
While coffee isn’t produced in La Fortuna, it gives you a great overview of its production and history within the country and the importance that both play within the Costa Rican culture. You can also taste a couple of freshly brewed cups of coffee on your chocolate in Costa Rica tour!
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With other top things to do in La Fortuna, like the Mistico Hanging Bridges, the La Fortuna Waterfall, the Tabacon Hot Springs and a hike around Arenal Volcano, a chocolate tour is a great addition to your exciting trip to Costa Rica!
This detailed guide on the best tours of coffee and chocolate Costa Rica in La Fortuna will cover facts about chocolate and coffee in Costa Rica, the top tours and why choosing to do your chocolate tours in La Fortuna is the best decision.
La Fortuna Chocolate Tour:
About Chocolate in Costa Rica
The food of the gods, chocolate has a long and fruitful history in Costa Rica. Costa Rican cocoa is world-renowned for producing some of the best dark chocolate. As one of the top producing regions on the globe, Costa Rica cacao tours have become a leading activity for many visitors to the country, and a La Fortuna chocolate tour is at the top of that list.
A visit to a Costa Rica chocolate farm (Finca), amongst the rainforest with Arenal Volcano as a spectacular backdrop, you’ll learn everything about Costa Rica chocolate, and taste some of the best chocolate in Costa Rica, too!
Where is Cacao Grown in Costa Rica?
The cacao plant is grown in six different regions within Costa Rica. These regions have the most fertile landscapes for the cacao tree to thrive. The regions of Talamanca, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Alajuela make up the chocolate producing land of Costa Rica. La Fortuna, located in the fertile and lush Alajuela province has some of the best chocolate tours in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is unique in that it has more than one region that produces cacao, unlike other Central American countries like Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
Health Benefits of Costa Rica Chocolate
It’s all about superfoods these days, but this trend has been around for centuries. Used as a medicinal and ceremonial drink by the Mayans and Azteks, chocolate has stood the test of time as a highly healthful plant. Raw cacao, in its purest form, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties.
High-quality dark chocolate, like the chocolate produced in Costa Rica, is said to help prevent cancer, improve mood, lower blood pressure, improve brain and heart function, help in weight loss and improve overall health. This is because of the high levels of theobromine, phenylethylamine, anandamide, caffeine, tryptophan, and flavonoids.
Therefore, one would have to conclude, that taking the best chocolate tour Costa Rica has to offer, is good for your health (wink, wink).
About Coffee in Costa Rica
As one of Costa Rica’s top exports (along with bananas), coffee has a huge cultural impact in the country. Grown in multiple areas throughout Central America, Costa Rica has an astounding eight coffee-growing regions.
It is important to note, that coffee is not grown in La Fortuna or the surrounding Alajuela Province. If you do partake in a chocolate and coffee tour, the coffee used in the demonstration and tastings is brought from the neighbouring Valle Central.
Why a La Fortuna Chocolate Tour
Because chocolate is grown, produced and made right here in La Fortuna and the surrounding Alajuela Province! Giving the best insight into the chocolate-making process and the most knowledgeable local guides.
While the best Costa Rica coffee tour can be found elsewhere, the ease and convenience of having a La Fortuna chocolate and coffee tour combined is great since there is so many more amazing things to do in La Fortuna and it helps you make the most out of your time in beautiful Costa Rica.
The Best Costa Rica Chocolate Tour
in La Fortuna
Rainforest Chocolate Tour (top pick!)
The Rainforest Chocolate Tour is solely focused on the food of the gods, chocolate. As the most popular and most highly rated chocolate tour in La Fortuna, and in Costa Rica, for that matter, the Rainforest Chocolate Tour is a must when visiting the otherwise adventure-packed destination of La Fortuna. How long is the Rainforest Chocolate Tour? 2 hours.
I went on the Rainforest Chocolate Tour and can definitely recommend it.
WHERE | Rainforest Chocolate Tour
Learning about Chocolate in Costa Rica
You start your chocolate adventure at the main office in front of a map of the world. Your friendly guide will tell you about the timeline of chocolate production on earth and ask you some fun questions.
Then you will move across the picturesque stationary bridge into the chocolate farm or plantation. Here you will see how cacao pods sprout and grow on the trunks and branches of the trees. The guide will give you some time to explore amongst the cacao trees and take photos.
Next, stroll into the drying shack and be taught about the fermentation and drying process for the cacao bean.
It’s truly amazing being amongst the cacao trees in central Costa Rica, as you listen to the sounds of birds and cicadas.
The portion of the Rainforest Chocolate Tour will take you to the wooden demonstration area. Here you will learn about the ancient cacao-making process that includes cracking open a freshly harvested cacao pod to reveal the slimy white coat of the outer cacao seed. You will be amazed by the colour of a raw cacao bean. As purple as a grape popsicle!
Tasting Costa Rica Chocolate
My favourite part is the chocolate tasting. Right after grinding the cacao nibs (pure cacao) into a liquid, you will taste the best hot chocolate of your life. Yes, you will be surprised by the taste of pure cacao and no, it’s not naturally sweet.
Most people can’t tolerate 100% dark chocolate, so producers and manufacturers will add 20% or more sugar and other ingredients like milk powder to make it more palatable.
With the remaining liquified cacao, you will get to mix your own concoctions. I loved the vanilla and chile combination, but there are a ton of ingredients to choose from. The tasting is basically unlimited, to taste as much chocolate as you can handle.
Both a tasty and educational tour for the whole family.
Best Coffee and Chocolate Tour
in Costa Rica La Fortuna
North Fields Coffee & Chocolate Tour
Fun for the whole family, a chocolate and coffee tour La Fortuna style is best taken with the knowledgeable guides at North Fields Craft Chocolate and Coffee Tour. I took my tour with the North Fields in the morning, which was perfect to enjoy my morning cup of joe or two. With a hit of chocolate, you are more than energized for the day.
It is my top pick for the best chocolate and coffee tour in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
Learning about Costa Rica Coffee & Chocolate
Walk amongst the beautiful flora and fauna of the North Fields Farm and listen to your guide chat about coffee and chocolate cultivation on the farm and in the region. The guides here are really high-energy and entertaining, chiming in with a few dad jokes here and there. We were fortunate enough to meet one of the oldest workers on the farm too.
Learn about the raw coffee berry, its harvesting and drying process along with the cultivation of the cacao pod. The guide will offer a tasting of the raw cacao bean with its slimy white exterior. The majority of our group declined because it looked ‘gross’, but I partook and it was a great experience!
Tasting Coffee, Chocolate & Sugar Cane
Take a seat around the chocolate-tasting tables at the main office of North Fields Coffee & Chocolate Tour. Your tour guide will show you the grinding and heating of cacao and allow you to mix your own ingredients with 100% dark chocolate.
Make sure to add a touch of sugar, since most palettes can’t tolerate the bitterness of pure cacao. I would suggest trying the pure form though at least once, as it’s such a unique and authentic taste. Much different from the mass-produced chocolate bars we get in North America.
Next, be taken to watch the roasting process of the coffee bean and learn about the difference between light, medium and dark roasts. Try a cup of sugar can juice, too!
Last, but certainly not least, take a stool at the coffee counter and watch as your coffee connoisseur brews a medium and dark roast pot of coffee using the traditional ‘sock’ method common throughout Costa Rica.
End your coffee chocolate tour La Fortuna by perusing the souvenir shop at the front, perhaps taking home a La Fortuna chocolate bar (or two) for your friends and family at home.
Other Chocolate Costa Rica Tours
In La Fortuna
Don Juan Coffee and Chocolate Tour
Similar to the North Fields coffee and chocolate tour, a guide will take you on a stroll through the family-run farm. Learn about the bean-to-cup and seed-to-bar processes for both chocolate and coffee. The tour is 2 hours in duration.
WHERE | Don Juan Coffee & Chocolate Tour
Don Olivo Chocolate Tour
Don Olivo Farm produces the highest quality chocolate known as the Criollo bean. Learn about this variety of chocolate, plus information on coffee, spices, vanilla, rum and sugar cane production. Taste fresh local fruits, chocolate and coffee, too.
The farm holds 1600 cacao trees and produces over 150 pounds of cacao every week. A big production!
WHERE | Don Olivo Chocolate Tour
Eden Chocolate Tour
Walk amongst the cacao trees of the organic Eden Farm along your Eden Chocolate Tour. This tour will teach you everything about the chocolate-making process in Costa Rica, plus you get hands-on experience making chocolate yourself. The Eden Chocolate Tour is 1.5 hours long.
WHERE | Eden Chocolate Tour
More about Costa Rica Chocolate
What type of Chocolate is Grown in Costa Rica?
There are four types of chocolate bean produced in the world: Forastero, Criollo, Trinitario and Nacional.
While speaking with my guide on the Rainforest Chocolate Tour I was told that Trinitario is the cacao seed variety most common in Costa Rica. The bean originated from a cross-pollination of Forastero seeds and Criollo beans, brought into existence after an almost-inhalation of Criollo crops in Trinidad in 1727. The Trinitario bean is mostly found in countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and parts of the Caribbean.
After Costa Rican chocolate plantations were devastated by the bacteria Monilia in the 1970s, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) created hybrid strains that were far more tolerant to fungus. These strains are also a part of present-day Costa Rica chocolate farming and are considered to have good production and quality.
How is Chocolate in Costa Rica Produced
The Costa Rica climate makes for ideal conditions for growing and harvesting cocoa trees. The tropical evergreen cocoa tree does best in the low wetland tropics of Central American, South America, West Africa and Southeast Asia, close to the equator.
While you will learn everything you need to know about the cacao and chocolate process along any of the best chocolate tours in Costa Rica, I’ve included a general breakdown of how chocolate is grown, harvested and produced here:
Picking and Opening the Pods
Chocolate starts in the cacao pod. The pod sprouts off the branches and trunk of the cacao tree. Depending on the variety, the pod will reach the size of a football and turn from green to yellow or orange when ripe. Pods are then removed from the tree manually with a machete or sharp knife.
Fermenting the Cocao Beans
Once the pods are split open to reveal the cacao seed (beans), it’s time for fermentation. The beans are laid out under the sun in shallow trays or beneath banana leaves depending on the locale and fermented for up to a week. The cacao farm workers will stir the batch periodically and the beans will turn a brown colour by the end of the fermentation process.
Drying the Cacao Beans
Before either producing chocolate on the farm or shipping it off to manufacturers, the cacao beans need to dry so they don’t produce fungus. This is usually done within a greenhouse or out under the sun. Again, this process takes approximately a week.
Roasting + Cracking the Cacao Bean
The dried beans are then cracked and winnowed (sorted) to separate the cacao nib from the shell. The cacao nib is either sold as is or ground and heated into chocolate liquor. The liquor is then used to either make chocolate, cocoa butter or cocoa powder for commerce.
How Long has Chocolate been Made in Costa Rica?
Cultivation of the cacao bean in Costa Rica is first recorded in 1563 in Quepos, a town in the Central Pacific. Larger-scale production is recorded to have begun in 1610 in the Caribbean port of Matina.
The History of Chocolate in Costa Rica
Important both culturally and economically, the cocoa bean was used as currency up until the 1930s by the Chorotega people of Costa Rica. Along with the Bribri people, the Chorotega made ceremonial, celebratory and ritual drinks from the Costa Rican cacao beans.
Once the leading export in Costa Rica, chocolate was overtaken by bananas and coffee in the 1970s due to a fungus epidemic that wiped out 80% of the cacao crop in Costa Rica. Eventually
A short timeline of cacao history in the world:
- 1519: First ceremonial cacao drink was made in Mesoamerica
- 1727: Hybrid strains of cacao beans were created to deter fungus
- 1828: Cacao powder was created
- 1847: The first chocolate bar was produced
- 1879: Cacao was brought to Africa
More About Coffee in Costa Rica
What Type of Coffee is Produced in Costa Rica?
The Arabica coffee bean is the most commonly grown in Costa Rica. The arabica bean is sought after in North America for its less acidic, sweeter and more delicate taste. The arabica bean grows best in wet conditions like the lush rainforest of Costa Rica.
A notoriously difficult bean to grow due to its fussy constitution, the bean requires a lot of love and tender care (pruning). Therefore it’s harder to grow in large quantities. Due to this, the bean is sold at a higher price point than most coffee beans.
Along my North Fields Craft Chocolate La Fortuna Tour, the guide stated clearly that Ticos (locals) do not drink their coffee cold or iced. Only a hot cup of joe will do. This could be because some researchers have said that the arabica bean can lose its flavour when chilled.
Where is Coffee Grown and Produced in Costa Rica?
The coffee producing regions of Costa Rica are Brunca, Guanacaste, Orosi, Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Turrialba, Valle Central, and Valle Occidental.
Best Restaurants in La Fortuna to grab a coffee or chocolate bar
Nearby Activities in La Fortuna
La Fortuna has some of the most popular attractions in Costa Rica. You can also check out my full detailed guide on La Fortuna Costa Rica to find out the top things to do, the best hotels, how to get there and more!
Best La Fortuna Hotels in Costa Rica
Okay, let’s take a look at where to stay in La Fortuna Costa Rica. The town of La Fortuna is the best base for your adventures around the Arenal region, but you can also book La Fortuna hotels with hot springs in the outskirts of town nestled in the jungle.
Most hotel La Fortuna options and Arenal hotels include spacious suites, some with shared pools and volcano views and great amenities. You can definitely find the comforts of home in most of the La Fortuna Costa Rica hotels.