Our authors have travelled the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, shimmying through the streets at Carnival, body-surfing at the beaches and gorging on street food, yet chocolate remains one of their highlights.
Some of the world’s best cocoa is grown in this twin-island republic, and there are plenty of ways to sample it. You can take home a taste of T&T home via a bar, a box of divine chocolates or some brewing cocoa or visit an estate for a bean-to-bar introduction to cacao production. With a resurgence in cocoa production and an industry starting to embrace ethical, fair-trade models, we’ve picked five our our favourite places to indulge…
1. Explore the cocoa groves at Velaja Estate
For those interested in learning about cacao production, a visit to Velaja Estate in central Trinidad is a must. The tours here take you through the whole process, starting with a walk around the cocoa groves and finishing with tastings of cocoa nibs hot chocolate tea. Along the way you’ll learn about how the beans are harvested, fermented and processed – plus there are additional opportunities to find out about organic farming and traditional agriculture.
2. Go back to basics in Brasso Seco
A low-key ecotourism destination in the heart of the mountains, Brasso is a must for hikers, birdwatchers, relaxation seekers and chocolate lovers alike. You can learn more about traditional ways of life here – and indulge your sweet tooth – at the nearby Manchuria Estate. The fifteen acres are being developed as an organic cocoa and coffee plantation; head to the “cocoa house” to watch beans being dried, roasted, shelled and grinded.
3. Pick up some local bars at the San Antonio Cocoa Estate
To see a larger scale operation in action, head to the 250-acre San Antonio Cocoa Estate in central Trinidad’s Montserrat Hills – they supply Belgian chocolatiers among their export markets. As well as taking tours of the plantation, you can also pick up excellent chocolate bars from the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Co-Operative Society, who use the facilities here for processing. There’s a growing buzz around local initiatives like this who are helping to build sustainable business models for cocoa production.
4. Book a tour and tasting at Tobago Cocoa Estate
Touring Tobago Cocoa Estate is a popular day-trip with visitors to the republic’s smaller island. The estate was the first on Tobago to produce their own bars, playing a key role in the cocoa production renaissance, and they’ve picked up a host of awards for their chocolate. Go all out and book a meal on top of the tour – as well as finding out about the history of cocoa and the production process, you’ll also get a chocolate or rum tasting.
5. Try handmade chocolates in Port of Spain
The handmade chocolates at Port of Spain’s Cocobel are as beautiful as they are delicious, each a little work of art courtesy of architect-turned-chocolatier isabel Brash. They combine Trinidad fine-flavour cocoa with local ingredients to create such delights as Mermaid’s Kiss (pineapple and chadon beni under dark chocolate, with salt crystals) or Basil wild (dark ganache with Paramin mint). Call ahead to arrange a tasting session.
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