Taza Chocolate Week at Cotton Tree Lodge
March 16-23, 2013
Cotton Tree Lodge & Taza Chocolate are proud to present Chocolate Week. This March, we invite you to join Taza cofounder Alex Whitmore for a full week in beautiful Belize, exploring the Mayan origins of chocolate and relaxing in the thatched-roof cabanas of Cotton Tree Lodge. Alex has spent the last several years travelling extensively through Latin America and the Caribbean, sourcing the highest quality organic cacao for Taza Chocolate. These efforts have recently led us to Belize where, in partnership with Cotton Tree Lodge and Maya Mountain Cacao, we're laying the groundwork for our next single origin chocolate bar. For enthusiasts seeking to better understand the chocolate-making process from bean to bar, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
Chocolate, from Tree to Taste:
The week’s activities, led by Alex, will center on the history and cultivation of cacao, and how it's transformed into craft chocolate. The climate of Southern Belize has proven just right for farming Theobroma cacao, on account its tropical lowland climate. And Cotton Tree Lodge is the ideal base from which to explore chocolate in all its facets.
Your week will begin with a visit to a local cacao farm, where farmers will show you how to identify healthy, ripe cacao pods and how to properly harvest the flesh and seeds inside. Later in the week, back at Cotton Tree and Maya Mountain Cacao, Alex will guide you through the fermentation process – the most significant factor in flavor development on the farm – using the beans you collected.
Also during your stay, Mayan families and local chocolate artisans will demonstrate the various ways cacao is transformed after harvest. During a visit to Eladio Pop’s farmhouse, you’ll watch and assist as a traditional Mayan cacao drink is made by mano y metate – that is, by hand with traditional stone tools. You’ll make an excursion to a chocolate “factory” in the village of Punta Gorda, where local artisanal chocolate maker Julie Puryear will demonstrate the roasting and winnowing steps, in which the beans are heated to impart flavor and eliminate moisture, and the shells are removed. With the freshly winnowed cacao, you’ll make your own high-quality chocolate bars, seeing the process through the final steps of conching, tempering and molding. You’ll have finished chocolate bars to bring home with you!
Another highlight of the program is the Lodge's proximity to Maya Mountain Cacao, a socially-responsible cocoa bean export business that Alex co-founded with Jeff Pzena from Cotton Tree Lodge. During the week, you’ll gain fascinating insight into the economy of chocolate and how Maya Mountain Cacao aims to foster a sustainable, fair business model and higher standards of living for local growers. Learn even more at mayamountaincacao.tumblr.com. Also, in the comfortable Cotton Tree Lodge gathering space, Alex will lead informal evening lect