One of the many fun things to do when you live in Cozumel is to show off your island paradise to visiting friends and family. Such was the case this past week when my sister Wendy and husband Joe Starr came to visit. Wendy has come to Cozumel every year since we made the move in 2006 and husband Joe has been here at least four times. They love Cozumel so much that they opted to get married here and bring down over 45 friends and relatives for the event, but that is another story.
Just when they thought they had seen and enjoyed everything the island had to offer, I surprised them with a tour to Cozumel’s own Chocolate Factory. The Chocolate Kaokao Factory is where they make Chocolate Kaokao Damarsicheli brand chocolates. Their chocolates are handmade and all natural, made on site, the island’s very own!
Chocolate Kaokao Damarsicheli is a family owned business that started in 2007. I first met Maryline Justice and her husband Joshue Lastirii a few years ago when I wrote an article about the factory for my column in News Cozumel. To meet them is to love them, they are absolutely delightful. Maryline was born and raised in Burgundy, France. She is now a Mexican citizen, with 16 years total living in Mexico, 10 of those years in Cozumel. Joshue was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was raised in Mexico City, and has lived in the States of Guerrero and Oaxaca before moving to Cozumel.
Once again our tour guide was Joshue and he was charming, delightful, entertaining and informative as he took us through the one hour tour. The factory itself has a glass window that enables visitors to observe their chocolate production. You can observe all you want before or after the tour. There are three different theme rooms used for the tour that are located in a beautiful outdoor courtyard.
One room is a “Little museum”, where there is an interactive talk about cacao and its relationship with the Aztecs and Mayan civilizations. Then, there is an overview of the importance of the cacao seed for the Mayan Civilization, including the tools used by the Mayans to make the sacred beverage: “chocolhaa” (hot cocoa).
Next was the “The Grinding Room”, a colonial style decorated room. Here we were taught to use an authentic Mexican Chocolate Mill to prepare a delicious traditional Mexican hand crafted “chocolate de mesa” (hot chocolate) to bring back home. I learned something that I have always wondered, how they make white chocolate
Last was “The Tasting Bar” that is located inside the “Factory Store”. We tasted the different flavors of the cacao during its process (Raw and Roasted cacao beans, cacao paste) and cacao cooking uses. The official tour ended doing my favorite thing, taste testing their whole product line. Yes, we all got a heavenly bite of ALL the flavors that they make. They left us to roam the Factory Store that was stocked with all the delicious kinds of Kaokao products as well as other local and regional products!
The Factory Store offers ideal gifts for everyone in the family; I even found sugar-free chocolate for my husband Charlie. Wendy and Joe stocked up on chocolates ideal for next Christmas’s stocking stuffers and found some unique specialty items to take back home for friends and relatives. On our way out we stopped to observe a worker making chocolate through the factory window.
The tour is just the right mix of information and entertainment; I recommend it for the entire family. My 11-year-old grandson accompanied us on the tour; you would have thought Joshue was Willy Wonka!
Tours are scheduled Mondays through Saturdays at 9 a.m. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $10.00 U.S. for adults and $5.00 U.S. for children ages 6-12. They are handicap accessible. You must make reservations, as they limit the number of people in each tour to a maximum of 12. They recommend to book at least 2 weeks in advance. You can make your reservations on-line at: http://www.kaokaochocolatefactorytour.com/Default.aspx#.UyBEzfldVbc.
If you do not have internet access, you may make the reservations by telephone at: 987-869-4705, (From the U.S. +52 first). The factory is located at Calle 1 a Bis Sur entre 80 y 85 Ave. Sur, Colony Flores Magón, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, México. 77670.
BREAKING NEWS CHOCOLATE LOVERS! Kaokao Chocolates is expanding and opening a store downtown! In a month there will be a “Chocolate café “with a store. Chocolate and cacao workshops will be held on site! The place has a beautiful garden in the back, so we will have another place to meet.
The Kaokao Chocolate Café is located conveniently at Avenida 10 between 3 and Rosado Salas a few steps from LA CHOZA restaurant.
Prepare your Own Chocolate as the Mayans did and More…
With a Culture as Rich as its Chocolate, One Learns to Appreciate Both.
Discover the origins of cocoa (or cacao), how the Mayans used the cocoa beans as currency and how the chocolate was drank only by Priests and Emperors. See both artifacts and current footage of cocoa fruits being harvested from their trees here in the region and contemplate how the trading routes of this product have so vastly grown over the centuries.Amidst a lush tropical setting you will visit a real Mayan house. Learn their traditions, their day to day life and clever gardening techniques. Try a freshly handmade corn tortilla topped with a popular regional sauce made primarily of chocolate.Learn how the ancient Mayans prepared chocolate. Watch the traditional appliances and ingredients come together to make this time-honored Delicacy. Taste it first, as the Royals would have way back when, and then experiment with delicious combinations of Honey, Chile and other Natural Flavorings.Shop an unimaginable variety of cocoa products: Soaps, Lotions, Sauces, a huge assortment of artisanal chocolate bars and much, much more. Sample the different flavors of chocolate before choosing your favorites.Take a break at our outdoor bar and enjoy a refreshing ice cold beer, tropical cocktail, soda or water.INCLUDES:
- Bilingual guide,
- Chocolate Tasting.
- Lunch / Food for Infant(s),
- Infant Safety Car Seat (however available upon request at time of booking)
- Souvenir Photos (although available for purchase)
WHAT TO KNOW:
- Children Must be Accompanied by an Adult,
- A small Amount of Walking is Involved,
- Collapsible Wheelchairs can be Accommodated Providing the Passenger is Accompanied by Someone who can Assist them Board and Disembark,
- Operates in all Weather Conditions, Please Dress Appropriately.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Light pants or jeans,
- Close toe shoes,
- Camera and cash for souvenirs, tips, etc…