When a friend asked me if I want to go to Mindo, Ecuador, there was only one possible answer:  YES!

Mindo is the place for biodiversity and natural beauty.  Mindo sits in a cloud forest in the Andes Mountains at 11,290 feet above sea level in northwest Ecuador, a few hours from Quito.   It’s also a place for making chocolate. Among the best-in-the-world chocolate.

El Quetzal de Mindo Chocolate Growers and Manufactures

el quetzal de mindo

I love chocolate.  El Quetzal do Mindo offers tours showing how chocolate is made “from bean to bar” and with a tasting at the end.  The tour we chose was given in English by the owner’s brother.  It was more than a half day plus event and worth the $10 for the tour.

el quetzal orientation
Tour orientation.  The wonderful guide is the gentleman in the yellow shirt.

El Quetzal grows some of their own organic cacao, which is the large beanlike seed where cocoa (and therefore chocolate) come from.

cacoa bean and me
Me holding a Cacao bean
cacao beans
Cacao Bean
cacoa tree
A cacao tree

But they primarily source from regional organic farms that are at a better altitude and climate to grow Cacao.

Fermentation and drying of the beans occurs where the beans were grown.

sorting dried cocoa beans
Sorting the nibs by hand

Then the beans are roasted at El Quetzal, then refined where the nibs are turned into a smooth molten chocolate.

Ready to be made into chocolate bars
For food sanitation reasons, we could not go into this room.  Its where even more magic takes place.  Sorry about the reflections for the picture.

Finally the chocolate is tempered, molded, and hand-wrapped.

Tasting Chocolate

At the end of the tour, we enjoyed a wonderful tasting.

El Quetzal makes chocolate bars that are 67% pure, 77% pure, 87% pure, and 100% pure.  By contrast, a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar runs about 11% pure chocolate.  Keep in mind that 100% pure means without sugar, milk, anything, so this may not be to everyone’s preference as it will retain some bitterness and a roasted taste.

They also make bars in flavors like sea salt, pure cinnamon (wow!), sea salt and sesame garlic, and tropical fruit (another wow!).

el quetzal more tasting

I believe this was a taste of Miel De Cacao which is the fruit syrup from the cocoa (yes the same one used to make the chocolate).  It was amazing.

Oh yes and of course their brownies.  The smile says it all.

el quetzal chocolate tasting

Thank you for reading.  Check out my other post about Mindo, Ecuador:

Mindo, Ecuador – Cascades and Cable Car