In 2008, a plan to retire and build a small winter home in Ecuador surprisingly turned into a restaurant, hotel and a chocolate making business.
Here is Jose's (Joe) story:
Six years ago my wife and I went to Ecuador, S.A. I was born in Riobamba, Ecuador and had not returned for 41 years. We liked it and kept going back to visit every year. In 2007 we bought a piece of land and in 2008 began construction or our "little house". Jose is an entrepreneur (serial entrepreneur as described by one of our restaurant customers) and somehow the little house turned into a restaurant and a hostel named El Quetzal de Mindo, in Mindo, Ecuador. Mindo is about 1 1/2 hours drive from Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
First we began roasting and local coffee in Mindo. And in 2009 we turned our attention to chocolate and we have devoted much of our time setting up a cacao processing station. Mindo is about 30 miles from Puerto Quito, a town where cacao is grows well. We searched for farmers who grow the Nacional variety (a type of criollo), who care about the environment, birds and growing organic cacao along with other fruits and nuts. And we set up on our property in Mindo the fermentation, drying, roasting and winnowing of the cacao. In 2009, we began importing to Michigan green coffee and cacao, most of the cacao is in the form of nibs. We ship cargo by air, that makes the shipping a little expensive but it arrives quickly and has less chance of having problems along the way. We have also been able to press the cocoa liquor and separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa powder.
To see regularly updated information and photos of the chocolate-making process, the farm where the beans are purchased and other photos of Mindo and Ecuador visit our Facebook page: El Quetzal de Mindo.