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The recently inaugurated Cacao Museum located in the República del Cacao store in the Historic Center of Quito is a worthwhile experience. An exquisite and sweet aroma immediately stimulates the senses of visitors when entering the premises, the delights offered are breathtaking, and a sudden interest in learning about the origin and history of Cacao Arriba awakens as we walk inside.
The Museum was designed as a space to discover and explore one of the most valued intangible heritages we have: cocoa. Photo albums that tell the history of Cacao in Ecuador take us back to the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, during which Ecuador provided between 50% and 75% of the total world market of Fine Cacao, also known as Pepa of Gold. No wonder cocoa is considered to be an Ecuadorean national treasure.
A complete sensory experience is fulfilled through the smell and touch of cocoa almonds placed in wooden crates. Learning about the different places where cocoa comes from, as well as the processes through which it passes before it becomes chocolate, is inspiring. Flavor and aroma will vary depending on the region from which it comes, and for that it will also have unique characteristics. It is truly amazing to admire how the ecosystem and climate conditions in which this plant inhabits were recreated inside a glass showcase.
A perfect representation of the typical farm where cocoa is grown and harvested will transport your imagination right to that spot, where you will be able to hear the relaxing noise made by leaves as they fall from the trees. Other elements in the museum, such as an artistic display of Pepa de Oro, a hammock and a bamboo cane provide with a touch of the coastal environment to the site. Archaeological replicas such as clay pots and various utensils are displayed as a sign of the presence of cocoa in pre-Columbian times, and the importance it had in indigenous rituals and cultural and religious ceremonies.
Local ingredients that are incorporated into República del Cacao chocolate bars, such as sea salt, rose petals, chili, uvilla, coffee, are displayed. Also, thru an inside window you can admire the laboratory or kitchen where several chefs are preparing multiple delicious recipes.
Republica del Cacao cherishes the valuable contribution of people who are part of the company, and who work day after day with the only objective of recovering the Cacao Fino in its origin. A large exhibition space has been dedicated to place photos of each person that is part of this team and contributes to make this industry possible. Among them, cocoa farmers, entrepreneurs, chefs and chocolatiers. Videos that tell encouraging stories of how members of this community have created strong bonds with each other are broadcasted. It’s worth paying attention.
The tour of the Museum takes approximately 20 minutes. A tour guide will explain every detail in Spanish or English, but it is also possible to explore on your own. Tickets are $5 and include the tasting of any dessert or drink from the cafeteria. We recommend choosing hot chocolate; it will exceed your expectations.
If you think the experience is over, wait till you visit the Cacao Workshop and Entrepreneurs Corner. It will leave you breathless when you find a variety of creative and innovative preparations such as chocolates filled with colada morada, cinnamon, uvillas, coconut or rosero; chocolates made with cocoa beans and tocte; also truffles and bars with “garapiñado”.
This is the perfect place to buy the perfect souvenir, or even that original gift for someone special. Handmade candles, soaps made from cocoa butter and essential oils, cocoa liquor, jams and chocolate spreads, alfajores, and handicrafts such as cacao-shaped jars, are some of the choices.
Remember to visit the Museum with your whole family, especially with children, who will discover the wonderful world of cocoa through an educational, fun and delicious experience.