El Quetzal Mindo Chocolate tour – Ecuador
A couple of blocks away from the central park, in the warm town of Mindo, you can go on a chocolate tour by El Quetzal Mindo. A tour that allows its visitors to go on a journey through the history of chocolate making.
This local business has been running since 2008, with a goal in mind: to make the best Chocolate possible. They started back then as a coffee store, selling pastries.
For their Chocolate, they work on sourcing the finest organic Nacional cacao from small family farms outside of Mindo. During the tour, we learned that cacao is originally from the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. Later on, cacao was taken to other countries with warm weather.
Source of the best cacao
In recent years, Ecuador has become a recognized source of quality cacao beans Ecuador. Some of the main chocolate brands in the country and the government participate in international fairs representing this unique product and showcasing it to the world.
The Chocolate tour
This is a tour everyone visiting Mindo should take, and even more if they love Chocolate.
A guided tour of the place allows visitors to see the cacao tree and fruit up close and learn about all the chocolate-making processes.
After an introduction, our guide took us outside the property where we were able to see the process used in manufacturing the products.
The first stages include fermentation and drying of the beans and El Quetzal carefully oversees these two stages. The next stage is the roasting of the cocoa. At this stage, we learn that when the shell of the bean cracks, the meaty part is then “cocoa nibs”, the shell is used as a tea, and then the roasted cocoa nibs are refined and conched, and after several hours the nutty nibs are refined into smooth melted Chocolate. The manufacturing process ends when the Chocolate is tempered, molded, and wrapped by hand.
At the end of the tour, we are back at the restaurant for the testing part. Here we get to taste some of the Chocolate, and then we are free to make our mix. We get sugar, coffee, chili pepper, and a spoon to mix freely. We also get to taste the cacao nibs, the tea, and the syrup. Oh, I almost forgot to mention their decadent chocolate brownie.
If you are a chocolate lover, you will like to know that you get trays with samples of different percentages of cacao and other fillings for sampling at the end of the tour.
All chocolate bars by el Quetzal have a high percentage of Chocolate, with 67% or more purity, sugar is organic, and no chemicals are used in their products.
The store and restaurant
Besides the tour and a lodge, El Quetzal features a restaurant with delicious food and a high-end gift shop with a wide selection of products by el Quetzal.
Where: El Quetzal de Mindo – 9 de Octubre, Mindo, Ecuador
Directions: turn LEFT at the main square in Mindo, then drive/walk two blocks up the hill
When: 7 days a week, each hour on the hour from 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Cost: $10 per person
Other activities in Mindo:
How to get to Mindo
Book a tour:
From Quito, you pass the park with the Equator monument, Mitad del Mundo, continuing on the main road to Esmeraldas for about 70 km. The exit to Mindo is on the left and is clearly marked by signs. You can also book a car with driver to take you all the way.
In order to get to Mindo, you need to go to Ofelia station north of Quito. You can reach the station by taking the Metrobus (blue line).
The journey from Quito to Mindo takes about 2h-2h30 and costs 3.1$ per person.
Where to stay
What to bring
In case of rain, it is recommended to bring a waterproof jacket or poncho.
Bring good walking shoes, as not all the trails are flat.
Most importantly, make sure to bring insect repellent and sunblock.
And if you love taking pictures or making videos, bring a waterproof case for your smartphone or your GoPro/Sony Action cam with a battery.
Whether you are a cacao enthusiast or a foodie this award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate factory is the choice for you. If you are in Mindo or wondering what to do on the weekend near Quito, I can recommend the El Quetzal de Mindo Chocolate tour, or if you lack time, at least go inside for their decadent chocolate brownie.
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If you want more in-depth information and also a guide that you can bring along during your trip, I recommend the travel guide Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands.
This is a great source of information and tips, maps, and all you need if you plan on visiting Ecuador. I personally like the option of having a hard copy version where I can take notes and have them at hand.
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