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.