Chocolate zealots, habitués, gourmands, abusers and lovers Come to Nicaragua and Help Us SAVE THE CHOCOLATE!

Cacao and chocolate originated in Central America. The criollo-based hybrids of cacao are known globally as the “flavor beans,” generally considered the most complex and finest in the world. Chocolates made from these beans have amazing tastes.

In Nicaragua today, the very old varieties of cacao are being phased out in favor of the new high-yielding hybrids. Yet many older varieties bear quite decently, and at least one of these is resistant to the Moniliasis, their worst disease problem.

The greatest incentive for small farmers to save their old varieties of cacao trees is getting premium prices for their different, sorted out cacaos. Today the farmers of northern Nicaragua do not separate the various types of cacao but simply mix them together for fermentation and sale.

The harvest includes cacao indio, cacao criollo, cacao blanco (not pataxte), and, of course, the bright new contender, the Trinitario acriollizado. Several of these varieties originated in Mayan times. We’d also like to taste the various old varieties!

Harvest in Nicaragua begins in October. Guide expert Sandy Hepler will be there for two months, until December 1, hosting chocolate lovers and habitués for a week or several weeks—your choice. They will have full access to the cacao harvest, fermentation on the farm, and then roasting, winnowing, and chocolate making in our kitchen in Granada. Home base in Granada offers amazing beauty and numerous opportunities for fun.

The Save the Chocolate tour will happen between October 15 and December 1, 2010. You choose the time and length of your stay.