When visiting the at least 30-degree hot Cartagena you probably don’t immediately think of chocolate. Yet here you will find the surprising Chocolate Museum. Walk into this wonderfully cool museum from the heat and discover how actually that bar of chocolate gets to your store. Although Colombia is known for its delicious coffee, cocoa is also an important product. However, unlike the many coffee plantations, there are still few opportunities to visit a cocoa plantation. All the more fun to visit the Choco Museum. Learn all about the path from cocoa to chocolate, buy the tastiest cocoa products, and make your own chocolate!
Cocoa production in Colombia
In Colombia, more than 50,000 people depend on cocoa production to make a good living. Consequently, quite a lot of cocoa is produced. 1 hectare of land can grow 1,000 cacao trees, with a total of 40,000 fruits hanging on it. This produces as much as 1,000 kilograms of cocoa from which about 10,000 chocolate bars can be made. Of course, cocoa is produced on much more than 1 hectare of land in Colombia, so you can somewhat imagine the size of this production. Cocoa trees grow in warm, humid areas. Nice to know that the production of cocoa is very similar to that of coffee to a large extent. The process of peeling, drying, roasting and grinding is much the same.
Cocoa butter: useful for many purposes
A cocoa bean consists of 50% cocoa powder and 50% cocoa butter, one of the most stable fats available. This along with its nice smell, smooth texture and emollient properties makes cocoa butter a widely used product in cosmetics. White chocolate also consists largely of cocoa butter. Indeed, there is no cocoa powder in it and is therefore not actually chocolate. In addition to its use for cosmetics and white chocolate, cocoa butter is also commonly used in medicines. Due to its low melting point, it remains solid at room temperature but melts once ingested into the body.
Types of chocolate
There are various types of chocolate for sale, such as dark, white and milk chocolate. Chocolate is made by mixing cocoa powder with cocoa butter and sugar. However, there is no cocoa in white chocolate, only cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. Milk powder is also added to milk chocolate, to which less cocoa is added than to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains the lowest percentage of cocoa butter and more cocoa powder and is therefore considered the healthiest variety. However, this variety also contains a lot of sugar and saturated fats, which can negate its positive health effects if you eat too much of it.
Make your own chocolate? Do a workshop!
Do you love chocolate and also want to escape the heat in Cartagena? Then do a workshop! At the basic workshop, you will get a tour of the museum and make your own chocolates from 100 grams of melted chocolate. Choose from white, milk or dark chocolate and mix it with sweets, nuts, raisins and more. When you are done, your creations are placed in the freezer for 20 minutes and voila: your very own chocolates are ready! This small 45-minute workshop costs 35,000 pesos (December 2016). Want to learn all about the process from cocoa to chocolate and make your own chocolate? Then choose the large 2-hour workshop. Cost: 75,000 pesos (December 2016). Also fun with kids! When you’re finished, don’t forget to immediately put your homemade chocolate in the refrigerator in your ho(s)tel.
The Choco Museo in Cartagena: practical
The chocolate museum in Cartagena is free to visit. Sample the most delicious homemade chocolate products or make your own chocolate milk with chocolate, milk, honey and cinnamon. The museum tells you the path from Colombian cocoa to the chocolate bar as you find it in stores. With beautiful pictures and interesting facts, you will become a lot wiser in half an hour. The museum is extremely nice and cozy and the staff is very enthusiastic, they know everything about cocoa and chocolate and it is also an ideal place to take away some nice gifts for home. You will find the museum in the historic center of Cartagena, at carrera 8 no. 39-36. Opening hours: daily from 10 to 10.
Because I have been to Cartagena several times, I am always trying to discover new places. The chocolate museum was a very pleasant surprise! With my parents, we made our own chocolates and enjoyed a delicious cup of Colombian chocolate milk. Highly recommended!