DocHeads Movie Night: Somewhere Else Tomorrow

documentary movie DocHeads Movie Night Caribeans

Every Friday night at Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate we show a free documentary movie and have a lively discussion afterwards.  We are entering our second year of DocHeads Movie Night!  If you love documentary films and want to join us, we start at 6:30 pm every Friday. (No film Friday, October 20th).

However…

Friday, October 28th we will show “Somewhere Else Tomorrow”.  This travel video blog follows the experiences of a motorcyclist as he figures out how to travel Europe, the Middle East, and China.

See Trailer Here

 

DocHeads Movie Night..Mindfulness: Be Happy Now!

DocHeads Movie Night

Every Friday night at Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate we show a free documentary film and have a lively discussion afterwards.  We are entering our second year of DocHeads Movie Night!  If you love documentary films and want to join us we start at 6:30 pm every Friday.

Happiness is a state of mind.  This week we will show “Mindfulness; Be Happy Now”.

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

Come and be present with us this Friday, October 13th, 6:30 pm at Caribeans Chocolate Tasting Lounge!  Free Chocolate tasting before the show!

See Calendar of other events happening this week at Caribeans.

Behind Every Great Chocolate Maker…

chocolate maker

Behind every chocolate maker…

They say, that for every great man there is an even greater woman.

For me that statement is perfectly true.  Not that I claim to be a great man.  Going on 25 years now, my wife Jeanne has been right there working to support everything I attempt to do. The few times I have succeeded would never have happened without her.

Today we live a life of Pura Vida here in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon, Costa Rica.  The pace of life here is quite lazy really.  No wonder the sloth is the local mascot.

I generally spend my day hanging out at the Caribeans Chocolate Tasting Lounge greeting customers, spending time with my regulars and guiding our Chocolate Forest Experience.  Over the last three years we have trained apprentices in the art of chocolate making.  These workers make really good chocolate which means I don’t make to much myself anymore (mostly quality assurance).

My wife Jeanne, on the other hand, is constantly on the move.  She is our main delivery and purchasing agent (except for cacao).  She handles payroll , staff schedules, and daily operations at the chocolate factory.  She does most of the baking and also helps with the tours.  She keeps the family calendar organized, keeps our clothes and dishes clean, keeps our tummies full and keeps the finances in order.  Whew!

chocolate maker
My helpmate.

People constantly praise me for the ethical and ecological way we make our chocolate.  People love Caribeans coffee and our chocolate.  Our coffee shop is nearly always full of people enjoying our products.  Our tour guests leave with a new appreciation for chocolate and I often get called nick names like Pauly Wonka or the Willy Wonka of Talamanca.  I have received prizes for our chocolate and hear over and over “this is the best chocolate I have ever tasted”.

The truth is Caribeans is totally dependent on many people who may never hear the accolades.  Firstly, we cannot make good chocolate with out good cacao.

So, behind every good chocolate maker there is an even better cacao farmer.

chocolate maker
Organic farmer…good idea.

Cacao farmers are spending many times more effort than the chocolate maker.  They must trim and prune the trees. They maintain the cacao forest with constant machete work.  They remove damaged fruit, and harvest ripe fruit. They crack open cacao pods and remove the beans.  They must successfully ferment the beans to develop flavor. They pray for sun and wait ten days or so for the beans to dry.  They will clean and sort any foreign material and defective beans before sending us the cacao.

Secondly, even the best cacao cannot be made into chocolate without experienced chocolate makers. Our chocolate makers have to use the right roasting profile in order to get the best from the beans.  They refine, temper and mold the chocolate.  They also package our chocolate by hand.  What we don’t package is used in our bakery and for chocolate drinks in the coffee shop.

Jeanne couldn’t make those amazing brownies without the excellent quality chocolate.  Her banana chocolate muffins would be nothing special without the chocolate she uses. Our iced mocaccino would be average without all of the others who worked in the field.

chocolate maker
Brownie Sundae!

I couldn’t even greet any customers if our product wasn’t made with love and care.  I couldn’t guide tours and give tastings and hear the praises without the help of so many people.

Our lives are totally Pura Vida and I have many people thank for that; Especially my wife Jeanne!  You are that greater woman who makes me the man I am!

 

 

DocHeads Movie Night: George Harrison, Living in a Material World part 2

DocHeads Movie Night

Every Friday night at Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate we show a free documentary film and have a lively discussion afterwards.  We are entering our second year of DocHeads Movie Night!  If you love documentary films and want to join us we start at 6:30 pm every Friday.

DocHeads

This Friday October 6th we will be showing the second part of George Harrison: Living in a Material World.  Free movie and discussion.  Show starts at 6:30 pm.

Official trailer.

See our calendar for other events.

DocHeads Movie Night! George Harrison: Living in a Material World part one.

DocHeads Movie Night

Every Friday night at Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate we show a free documentary film and have a lively discussion afterwards.  We are entering our second year of DocHeads Movie Night!  If you love documentary films and want to join us we start at 6:30 pm every Friday.

DocHeads

This Friday we will be showing the first part of George Harrison: Living in a Material World.  Free movie and discussion.  Show starts at 6:30 pm.

Official trailer.

See our calendar for other events.

Better Farming Makes Better Chocolate

Cacao Farming makes all the difference in chocolate quality but, when I first started making chocolate almost ten years ago, I was surprised to find out that the chocolate we made from one farm would taste different than the chocolate from another farm.

Now it is obvious that the farming and genetics of the cacao will make flavors and aromas different from one country to another.  My first experience with this was at the Northwest Chocolate Festival several years ago in Seattle.

Caribeans was one of the only chocolates made at origin in this very large chocolate exposition.  We were very inexperienced and had almost no marketing skills whatsoever.  I felt like a tiny fish in shark infested waters.  Even though we were just a super micro bean to bar chocolate maker we were given an experience that made our chocolate even better.

Our chocolate is made from cacao grown exclusively here in Costa Rica.  Other chocolate companies were able to make chocolate from cacao grown in any country that produces cacao.  I tasted bars with over 20 different countries of origin.  The main thing I noticed is that, even though I only use cacao from Costa Rica, our chocolate had nearly as much diversity in flavor and aroma as all of these different countries.

I realized it would be next to impossible to get a cacao from Madagascar but one of the farms I work with has flavors and aromas of fresh berries.  Another farm has aroma of honey and cinnamon and yet another had notes of green olives.  Also since the farms are right here the costs of import and transport were much less.  We started giving the farmers a chance to taste the chocolate.  Time after time the farmers would tell me this is a first for them.

Soon after we started the farmer tastings, farmers would ask me what they could do to reduce an off flavor or improve their cacao.  Since I didn’t have any experience with cacao farming, I began to learn what I could from the internet and began visiting farms.

What I learned is that each farm has its own collection of trees.  In our case many that were planted with seed about 80 years ago.  That meant that the genetics although similar from farm to farm was completely wild.  This diversity in genetics is the first reason the chocolate tasted different from farm to farm.

Soil type is pretty similar in our area but we cannot discount differences in drainage, micro climates, elevation and other terroir factors.  This means each farm would be unique terroir.

I also learned that the farmers are fermenting the beans and drying them in the sun.  Some used the sacks used for rice or flour.  Some used wooden boxes.  Some made a pile on top of banana leaves.  Every farmer uses whatever natural micro-organisms available in the process.  Some frequently mixed the beans and some never did anything special.  All of these variables must be dramatically affecting the flavor and aroma.

The drying also was hugely different from farm to farm and also from batch to batch according to available sun.  Sometimes the cacao dried too fast and leaves the chocolate sour like pickles or vinegar.   Sometimes the cacao dried to slow and developed mold or smokey meaty flavors.

Over the years and making thousands of micro batches of chocolate from the same farms we have discovered some of the key factors for making better chocolate.  Nearly all of these factors are in the farming.

If you want to taste for yourselves, order a farms tasting pack.  You will notice dramatic differences from one chocolate to another.

Better farming makes better chocolate.

DocHeads Movie Night

Every Friday night at Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate we show a free documentary film and have a lively discussion afterwards.  We are entering our second year of DocHeads Movie Night!  If you love documentary films and want to join us we start at 6:30 pm every Friday.

This week we are showing “Don’t Look Back” a documentary of Bob Dylan’s London tour in 1967.  Since I will be turning 50 on August 15, we will be showing a 50 year old documentary about my favorite artist, poet and musician.

New Webpage design!

Over the last couple of weeks we have been hearing that www.caribeanscr.com or www.caribeanschocolate.com was not working properly.  Since I used to be a tech guy, I of course decided to “fix” the problem.  After a couple of hours I had broken both sites and could not fix the issues.  So making lemons in to lemonade, I decided to start over from scratch.  I hope you all like the new design and now both domains are working!

Maybe, I should keep with the coffee and chocolate making, but I feel victorious right now!

Chocolate Muses from the Rainforest

Ten years ago my wife and I started a coffee shop in Puerto Viejo de   We had been working as volunteers for about two years, had a baby boy and sort of  became beach bums for a year .  We needed to do something, or we would be both broke and crazy from boredom.  

We noticed there was no coffee shop in Puerto Viejo except ones that also served breakfast, lunch and dinner.  As coffee snobs were suffering with the low quality coffee in the grocery store.  So we decided to open our own coffee shop.  After reading “The Complete Idiots Guide to Coffee Shops”, we decided to source our coffee green (unfrosted) directly from farmers and invested in a small scale coffee roaster.

Not long after that we were trying to make coffee/chocolate drinks without using industrial or cheap chocolate syrups or powders.  We searched the internet and found the process for making chocolate starts with roasting the beans.

We purchased beans from local indigenous farmers and began testing the coffee roaster to roast cacao beans. Ever since we discovered the coffee roaster works great to cacao beans, we have been deepening out knowledge of chocolate making.

I intend to use this blog to tell our story, but also to discuss chocolate growing. To be continued….