Not sure where to go for your next holiday? Why not use chocolate as inspiration…
Cocoa-devotees – do you ever think that there’s more to life than chocolate? No? Us neither. For us, there’s nothing better than finding a new cocoa blend or different single-origin cocoa bean to flavour our recipes with. We keep cocoa at the backs of our minds at all times.
That being said, sometimes it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone. If you want to fully digest the deep and dark world of chocolate, then you may want to venture further away from home. We’ve put together our chocolate tour guide to help you explore every side of chocolate whilst you travel the world.
Why go on a chocolate tour?
Upon first thought, a chocolate tour might seem like a bit of a wasted holiday. Your corner shop stocks white, milk and even dark chocolate, doesn’t it? However, there is a whole world of chocolate-tasting out there, which is just waiting for you.
The beauty of a chocolate tour is that you can make it as big or as small as you want. If you’re planning a big multi-stop trip then there may be a few destinations you choose to add to your list. Or, if you’re travelling to just one country then you may want to base it off the nation’s chocolate history.
That being said, the UK is equally notable for its chocolate achievements, making it a great destination for an at-home chocolate tour.
A chocolate tour isn’t just about eating the chocolate (although this does play a very big role). Learn everything from the history behind chocolate to the way it’s made. Experience different aromas and textures of chocolate. Explore each cocoa percentage in its own right, and enjoy flavour combinations that you would have never thought of before.
Mexico: First chocolate drink
Our first stop takes us to Mexico, the birthplace of cocoa. The History of Chocolate began a staggering 3,500 years ago when Mayans would drink a cocoa concoction. This drink was more on the savoury side; a blend of crushed cocoa, cornmeal, chilli and water. Mayans believed it would give them strength before a battle, and the cocoa bean was also said to have healing abilities.
Nowadays, chocolate in Mexico tastes a little different. If South America is on the itinerary then Oaxaca, Mexico is the place to be. Calle Francisco Javier Mina – or chocolate street – is full of shops boasting a whole range of chocolate treats to choose from. If you’re after authenticity, then walking around this area and breathing in the deep and powerful chocolate aromas should do the trick.
Spain: First chocolate in Europe
Of course, chocolate didn’t just end up in Spain by magically appearing. Like many new items during the 16th century, European conquerors imported it to Europe from overseas. By 1585, Spain was busily importing cocoa from Latin America, and the craze quickly spread around Europe. European palates weren’t quite ready for the traditional South American drink, and preferred to make their own mix consisting of cocoa, cane sugar, cinnamon and other spices.
If you want to mix chocolate tasting and beaches, then head to Villajoysa, located in Alicante – the place where cocoa first landed in Spanish shores from the Americas. Here there are a number of chocolate shops, a chocolate museum and an old-school chocolate factory that still uses traditional methods to make chocolate.
The UK: First solid chocolate bar
The first chocolate bar takes us closer to home with an invention by chocolate makers J.S Fry & Sons Ltd. In 1847 they produced the first chocolate bar in their factory in Bristol. The chocolatiers’ launched their famous Fry’s Chocolate Cream later in 1866, and it then became the first mass-produced chocolate bar.
There are plenty of chocolate shops to pop into: simply stroll up Park Street and head into a selection of chocolate shops and cafes.
Switzerland: First milk chocolate
Love the creamy, milky finish of milk chocolate? For those who want to know who invented milk chocolate then you’ll want to look further afield than Bristol. Switzerland stands as the birthplace of milk chocolate, and if you’re planning on taking a European holiday then we suggest heading to Switzerland for a cocoa-crazy adventure.
It all began in the 17th century when Switzerland began to process chocolate. Over time, chocolatiers perfected their recipe to make something that we’re much more familiar with today. In 1819, the first mechanised chocolate factory opened in Vevey and by 1867 this town would facilitate the rise of milk chocolate. When Daniel Peters opened up his own chocolate factory, he decided to add milk powder to the mix. The recipe was a success and paved the way for the invention of future famous chocolate bars, such as the Toblerone bar.
There are endless chocolate tours available in Switzerland, but we think a trip to Vevey – the place where it all started – is a good starting point for those looking for an authentic chocolate tour.
St Lucia: Cocoa Farms
For those who want to completely immerse themselves in the world of chocolate, we suggest visiting the tropical island of St Lucia. Our Rabot Hotel overlooks the astounding mountainous terrain and buzzing jungle. It’s also located on our very own cocoa farm where we directly grow some of our very own cocoa for our chocolate.
Our St Lucian Experiences give you the complete chocolate experience. Choose from a selection of three experiences and learn how to grow, make and eat chocolate (because there’s more to it than just scoffing it down, we promise).
Chocolate-inspired day trips
Sometimes you only have a day free for some chocolate exploration. Make the most of your Saturday and check out these cocoa-inspired trips closer to home.
Cocoa Bar cafes – Nationwide
Chocolate tasting isn’t just about nibbling on a bar of chocolate. Our Cocoa Bar cafes are located nationwide to allow you to enjoy your very own chocolate tour, without your passport. We serve a range of high cocoa chocolate treats for you to choose from, whether you’re cooling down with a creamy chocolate shake or energising with our chocolate latte.
Hotel Chocolat bar – Borough Market
For a complete chocolate tasting evening, our Rabot 1745 restaurant, located in the foodie location of Borough Market, lets you enjoy the delicate notes of cocoa in every course, including our drinks menu.
Sip on a G&T infused with mellow and smoky undertones of cocoa shell. Tuck into a menu carefully curated to allow delicate notes of cocoa work in both savoury and sweet foods. It may sound a bit unusual, but we promise the deeper, richer notes of chocolate goes beautifully with the right savoury foods.
Best chocolate experiences
For a chocolate tour that all the family will love, we recommend a day trip to The School of Chocolate. We’ve created experiences that for kids and adults alike. Our experts take you through a guided tour of how chocolate is made before inviting you to taste each grade of chocolate alongside a complimentary drink.
We’ve designed each tasting adventure with the intention to teach you something new, as well as to open your eyes to a new world of chocolate. Passport or no passport, a chocolate tour is something that all chocolate-lovers should experience at least once in their life. We invite you to ours.