Coffee and bananas and pineapples, oh my! Yes, Costa Rica is famous for these three exports, but there’s another product that is experiencing a resurgence in the region: chocolate.
Home-made warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream from Latitude 10 Beach Resort
Throughout Central America there is a boom in chocolate production, ignited by a number of factors. From the successful engineering of fungi resistant beans (in response to the fungi that decimated the industry in the 1970’s) to increasing conflict in key production regions in Africa, Costa Rican farmers are looking increasingly towards cocoa as a sustainable and profitable crop.
Though Costa Rica has not yet grown to be a major player in cocoa production world wide, there are many models throughout the country of farmers who have succeeded and thrived, giving up and comers and idea of what lies ahead for them.
Since the release in 2007 of scientific research vetting the health benefits of dark chocolate, the demand for fine dark chocolate has been on a steady increase. This trend and Costa Rica are a match made in chocolate heaven, as Costa Rica is the only country in Central America, and one of nine in the world, which exports this fine-flavour chocolate, according to this article.
In addition, the increasing demand for fair trade chocolate only adds fuel to this exciting, chocolatey, delicious, mouth watering… mmm… fire. Why, you may ask, is increasing the number of cocoa farms in the region, a positive thing?
1. Cocoa requires very few agrochemicals (compared to other huge exports like bananas and pineapples).
2. Cocoa trees need shade, so they can actually be planted throughout the rainforest, avoiding clear cutting.
3. Because cocoa can grow in an area populated with trees, the farmers can use one plot of land for multiple crops. This reduces the amount of land they need, and ensures that they can be harvesting something all the time.
Santa Teresa, which is under minutes by bike from Latitude 10, is a city with a thriving culinary scene. As interest in culinary tourism grows, the city and its people have responded by expanding and improving their already unique, inventive and delicious restaurants to incorporate new ingredients and recipes. Everyone who stays with us at Latitude 10 leaves with a refreshed feeling towards food, and life in general!
Here are are a few flavors that pair wonderfully well with chocolate to inspire you in your creations at home and selections at the grocery store!