Where chocolate grows on trees!
If you are visiting Panama, touring the chocolate farm on our island is a must. CNN says it’s one of Panama’s top 11 things to do.
The History of Chocolate in Panama
To early Central American Tribes and even the ancient Mayan and Aztec communities, the cacao plant was very valuable, even used as currency. As immigrants came to Panama from the other Caribbean Islands, they bought land and employed the native peoples in the production of the plant. Then, with the discovery of America, chocolate was introduced to Europe and there it was transformed into the product we know today.
In recent times, Ngobe natives have bought back their land and continued production themselves. At present, about 30 indigenous families own the Oreba Cooperative…Oreba meaning “chocolate” in the Ngobe language. The Oreba Shop is located on Bocas del Toro on Isla Bastimentos.
Panama’s Chocolate Today
Oreba Chocolate is considered by Swiss experts to be among the finest in the world. Mix the paste grinded from seed with some sugar and milk, and you’ll get milk chocolate, or leave it without and you’ll get dark chocolate. These Ngobe families pack all of their products by hand and export them to Switzerland or sell locally. For a fascinating “plant to product” presentation visit: http://thekatecoast.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/a-magical-place-where-chocolate-grows.html
Chocolate Farm Tours
On Isla Bastimentos, at the top of the highest hill just above the rainforest canopy, you’ll find Oreba Chocolate Farm. From Red Frog Beach, it’s about a 25 minute hike. Get ready to roast, grind and sample the goods!!…..and don’t forget to take home some chocolate nibs!