Ecuador – Day Twelve: Guangala & Tulicorp…Chocolate from tree to bar

Today I channeled Marc Summers from the Food Network’s show Unwrapped. It was a Food Network favorite of mine in the early 2000’s and if I could have ever picked a topic to make a guest appearance on, chocolate would have been right up there at the top of my list.


I’ve always known that chocolate originates from cocoa beans, but never fathomed the extent of the process. We visited Guangala, a company with more than 30 years in the chocolate market. Committed to sustainability and ethical practices, Guangala supports 85 employees and exports 30 thousand tons of chocolate each year throughout the world.

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Rafaela, a Colorado State University alumna, was our guide for the morning as we learned about the cacao tree farms they do business with and what an actual cacao pod looks like as well as the fermentation process. The fermentation process of the cocoa beans is pretty interesting and Jimmy, the fermentation expert at the plant, gave us the full scientific version with a level of passion that was inspiring.

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The second half of the day was spent at Tulicorp, the company that produces and packages the chocolate from Guangala. Here is where we learned about the roasting, shelling, grinding, and mixing processes for dark, milk and white chocolates. It’s where the actual magic happens. Thankfully, they were generous with the samples.

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It was a long, hot day spent listening and learning. By the time we returned to the hotel, we were hungry for dinner, although we’d had plenty of chocolate to fuel us throughout the day. I was certain that I’ve had enough Ecuadorian chicken and rice throughout this trip and convinced Mike to help me seek out something different. After one trip around the block in the rain, and no viable options, Mike talked me into a Big Mac and French fries at McDonalds. So, here it is…my Ecuadorian Big Mac and fries. It tasted just like home.

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Tomorrow is a beach day and I’m looking forward to finishing my audio book under a cabana. It’s almost time to head home and I’m ready. Ecuador has definitely broadened my lens on the world and helped me discover my intention word for 2019. It’s GRATITUDE! My experience in this country has helped me appreciate the things I take for granted every day. The four things that have stood out the most for me are: safe and clean drinking water, toilet paper, responsible waste management, and animal welfare.

This was a trip of a lifetime and I’ll forever feel a sense of gratitude for what Ecuador has taught me. Thank you, Colorado State University College of Business, for this professional development opportunity.

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