Cacao Plantations in Taiwan: Tree to Bar Chocolate on Formosa

5/5 - (1 vote)

After spending another week in Taiwan, I’ve just gotten back home.

Taiwan is a beautiful tropical nation that was first inhabited by indigenous peoples and was discovered and introduced to the rest of the globe by Dutch and Spanish explorers in the early 1600s. In addition, throughout the most of its modern life, it has been governed by China in some capacity or another. Although Mandarin is still widely spoken, a significant number of individuals in China are also fluent in English, particularly those who live in urban areas. A significant number of residents in the southern region are fluent in either Taiwanese or one of the indigenous languages, such as Hakka.

I would advise you to look for things to do in Taipei if you feel uneasy when you are the only one around who speaks English.

The aesthetic preferences and aesthetic choices of the people have been significantly influenced by Chinese culture and fashion, particularly with regard to food. The giving of luxurious and pricey culinary presents has become the standard, just as it has in urban China, and artisanal chocolate is unquestionably in the lead among these gifts.

Cacao Along Taiwan’s West Coast

In Taiwan, I discovered close to forty chocolate stores, several of which had more than one location. Along the western coast, six of these locations are devoted to the cultivation of cocoa on farms of varied sizes. I attempted on three consecutive occasions to purchase a kilogram of cacao, but I was unsuccessful each time. Virtually all of the cacao farmed on the island is of the more resilient forastero strain, and it is in great demand.

In reality, the thriving cacao business is a reaction during the last fifteen years to the unsustainable betel nut sector that dominated Taiwan at the tail end of the 20th century. Cacao production has been on the rise in Taiwan. It’s a good thing that betel nuts aren’t popular anymore since I’ve heard that they don’t produce chocolate that’s anywhere close to being as excellent.

Both do-it-yourself (DIY) workshops and anything done in a French manner are quite popular in Taiwan at the moment.

At least one of these six chocolate spots should make it onto your list whether you’re planning your trip around the coolest chocolate spots or looking for a unique perspective on Taiwanese culture. If you’re looking for a unique perspective on Taiwanese culture, you should plan your trip around the coolest chocolate spots.

The shop that opens first is called TL Chocolates, and if you have an appointment for eight in the morning, you will have plenty of time to stop and get a typical Taiwanese breakfast on your way there.

If you want to complete this plan in a single day, you will cover more than 200 miles and will spend around four hours in the car doing so. Within that time frame, it is possible to complete the task, but we strongly recommend that you extend the time frame and use part of that additional time to also admire the surrounding places. You may be interested in getting in touch with the Pingtung Hakka Cacao Association, Coffee & Chocolate Taiwan, or Monisa’s Cocoa Garden if you are already a cacao farmer or if you are planning to start cultivating the brown gold in the near future.

TL Chocolates & Cacao Plantation (東琳坊巧克力房)

8am-9am, in Nantou County

My buddy and I both decided that the proprietor of TL Chocolates, Tseng Cheng Tung, is one of the most pleasant persons we had encountered, and this was despite the fact that we had already experienced Taiwanese friendliness for many days. It would make the most sense for him to retire in his home county of Nantou, which is also the location of his birth. Around 800 cacao trees, ranging in age from seedlings to producers that are 4 years old, are cared for on the farm that he has been operating for the last four years. A month earlier, we approached him with our request to visit his cocoa farm, not really knowing what to anticipate based on what we saw on his Facebook profile. When we arrived, he showed us about his property, and thereafter, we all engaged in leisurely English conversation for close to an hour.

However, this was not the conclusion. Just for the two of us, Mr. Tseng had produced some homemade chocolates with chopped pieces of local fruit, cacao pulp jelly, and chocolate milk jelly. He didn’t want anything in exchange for all of the work he put into preparing. He replied, “you come all this way simply to see my land, and I must show it to you since you came all this way.” Due to its location at a latitude of 24, it is most likely one of the most northern outdoor cacao plantations in the world. If you want to come, I suggest that you hire a vehicle and park it on the property; however, if you take the bus from Taichung or Nantou, he will pick you up for an adult DIY session.

Offerings: DIY Chocolate Workshops with a farm tour.

Address: 名間鄉東湖村虎坑巷47號, Nantou (Google Map)
Tel: +886 937 888 476
Hours: 8am – 4pm, Daily (visits booked by appointment through Facebook, only with more than 7 days’ notice

9am-11am: drive ~2 hours to Chiu’s Coco, in Pingtung County.

Taiwanese coffee from Choose Chiu’s.

Chiu’s CoCo

11am-11:45am, in Pingtung County

Our is a location that we failed to visit on this excursion. In point of fact, we were completely unaware of it until we reached Chomeet, a quaint small residential chocolate factory located just south of Taichung. They informed us that it was the first bean-to-bar producer in Taiwan, and that the owner was a significant source of inspiration for them. His name is Chui, and he is the inspiration for the snappy tagline “Choose Chiu’s.” He has devoted the last 14 years of his life to making cocoa a commercially viable crop in Taiwan. It all began with a need for Taiwanese coffee of superior quality, but it rapidly expanded to include additional premium raw ingredients for flavoring.

In addition to the fact that he was the first bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer in Taiwan, he also utilizes cocoa that he has grown himself in his products.

2003 was the year that Chui planted his first trees, and 2006 was the year that he brought in his first crop. On their property, you will be able to see the cacao trees that he continues to care for, sample some of his tree-to-bar chocolates and ice cream, and get information on the production process of these items as well as the history of cacao in Taiwan.

Offerings: tree-to-bar chocolate bars & bonbons, ice cream, and cosmetics.

Address: 921, Pingtung County, 內埔鄉, 富田村富豐路328號 (Google Map)
Tel: +886 930 475 009
Hours: 10am – 9pm, Tue-Sun.

11:45am-12pm: drive ~15 minutes to JCCW.

Photo credits: Joyce Chocolate & Cafe Workshop. All Rights Reserved.

Joyce Chocolate Cafe Workshop

12pm-1pm, Pintung County

Just outside the outskirts of Khaosuing City is a cluster of three stations, and this one is the second of those stops. It’s the only other location on our list that we weren’t aware of until it was too late to do anything about it. Every Sunday from 1pm to 6pm, the Cafe has a type of open house in which Joyce displays the process of manufacturing chocolate (with samples, of course!) and then shows off the cacao and coffee trees growing right outside the Cafe’s windows.

Chocolate lovers who are looking for someone who has traveled extensively and gained knowledge about cacao farming and chocolate production from Joyce would find her to be an invaluable resource. When I finally make it to southern Taiwan, this will be one of the first places I visit there.

Offerings: tree-to-bar bonbons, Taiwanese coffee, cacao & coffee farm lessons, and chocolate workshops with an overview of their chocolate making process.

Address: 中柳路396巷7號 Pingtung (Google Map)
Tel: +886 938 802 019
Hours: Sundays from 1pm – 6pm, or by appointment.

1pm-1:15pm: drive ~15 minutes to CocoSun.

Cocosun Cacao Farm

1:15pm-1:45pm, Pintung County

Locals recognize Cocosun for its “chocolate enzyme drink,” which is prepared with fermented cacao nibs and has the flavor profile of white wine transformed into a chocolate slushie. The drink is famous in Cocosun and is well-known in the area. Additionally, they create bean-bar chocolate right there on the premises. Intrigued? Their brand, Jobar, utilizes cacao from Ecuador, while the firm itself makes their bonbons using couverture from Belcolade. Jobar uses Ecuadorian chocolate. The land is extremely big and attractive, particularly in the areas of the property that are shaded by the cocoa trees that dot the landscape.

Cocosun even offers fresh cacao pods in their gift store, and we made sure to pick up a few of them so that we would have something to eat on the road as we made our way back up north.

Those who are interested in conversing on business-related matters about cacao are encouraged to seek out Joseph, a skilled employee who attended school in the United States and has flawless English. In the event that you arrive at the farm feeling peckish, Joseph is also in charge of the modest pizza restaurant that has a brick oven.

Offerings: brick oven pizza, brick oven chocolate, bean-to-bar chocolate, flavored bonbons, do-it-yourself chocolate workshops for children, chocolate wine slushies, and forastero cacao pods.

Address: 923, Taiwan, Pingtung County, Wanluan Township, 復興路2之55號 (Google Maps)
Tel: +886 8 781 0569
Hours: 9am – 6pm, Daily (open until 6:30pm on weekends)

1:45pm-2:15pm: drive ~30 minutes to Fuwan Chocolates.

FuWan Chocolate

2:15pm-3:30pm, Khaosiung City

In contrast to the facilities of the vast majority of chocolate manufacturers that have won international awards, Fuwan Chocolate’s location is quite unremarkable. Parking is not a problem, nor is there a shortage of open space. Their property includes not just a guesthouse with peaceful gardens and a farm-to-table restaurant, but also a chocolate factory that makes bars from bean-to-bar chocolate. You may take a stroll over to the farm and see the progress that is being made on their very own miniature cocoa plantation while you wait for your lunch or for your afternoon tea and truffles.

If, on the other hand, you want to make the most of your time here, all you have to do is follow the yellow signs. You’ll find the air-conditioned chocolate workshop in the building that’s towards the rear of the property. You’ll have to go through the restaurant and the hall of chocolate infographics to get there. There, they display a visual menu of all of the items that they have available, along with pricing, and you may try practically everything, including the bars that they create from Pingtung cacao.

This particular brand is well-known for its tree-to-bar Taiwanese chocolates, of which they currently have 6 available for purchase. However, in order to make bean-to-bar chocolates, they bring cacao from Papua New Guinea and Ecuador into the country. Additionally, they use French chocolate to make flavorful flavored bars. The staff is really kind, but they don’t know much English and have to rely on Google Translate to communicate with customers. Because the turn to the globally renowned firm is situated off of a route that doesn’t stand out, you need to pay close attention while you search for it.

Offerings: award-winning bean to bar chocolate, afternoon tea with locally-inspired bonbons, chocolate-covered fruits, mendiants, Chocolate Making DIY, Guest House

Address: 屏東縣東港鎮大鵬路100號, No.100, Dapeng Rd., Donggang Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 928 (Google Maps)
Tel: +886 8 835 1555
Hours: 9am – 6pm, Daily.

3:30pm-5pm: drive ~1.5 hours straight down the coast to Uncle A-Shin’s Choco Farm, savouring that view.

Uncle A-Shin’s Choco Farm

5pm-6pm, Kenting (Pingtung County)

This last visit is by far the biggest and most adorable of the group of stops that we made. You will see a variety of signs along the route that will tempt you to go in that direction far before you really reach there. They offer performances by local indigenous people four times each day, and guests staying at the resort that is just across the street will get a discount on their admission price. But the kids’ do-it-yourself classes are what truly bring in the residents of the area. The farm provides discounts of NT$100 on their meals or lessons in the form of coupons that are printed on their NT$200 entry tickets. Classes vary from chocolate making to herbal exploration, and the coupons may be redeemed at the farm. Kids under 3 are free.

The promise of their chocolate, however, is what brings in visitors from all over the world. You can get blasts of air conditioning whenever you enter a room if you go about the plantation, and there is lots of open space in between these rooms. After a strenuous stroll, you should relax at the café for a while. When traveling in the other direction, I suggest that you stop for some Taiwanese coffee, as well as some truffles and homemade ice cream whenever you have the chance.

We sampled a selection of their chocolates, and I found each and every one to be of the highest quality.

The barista and I were having a chat that was being translated, and she assured me that their items are produced using chocolate from Taiwan.

Nothing that we had was very sweet, and it seemed as if everything was made on the premises. The heat and the lack of pods on the trees were the main problems we encountered, but I would go back there in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. Do not be put off by the fact that there will be a charge to enter since this will be your entry ticket to delectable treats.

Offerings: Kids’ do-it-yourself chocolate workshops, performances by native peoples, a massive air-conditioned gallery of chocolate making instructions, Taiwanese coffee and drinking chocolate, locally-flavored ice creams and gelatos, self-guided farm tours, house-made chocolate bonbons, and a gift shop stocked with a variety of items, including roasted cacao beans in very small quantities.

Address: No. 27-8, Wanli Road, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 946 (Google Maps)
Tel: +886 8 886 9696
Hours: 9am – 6pm, Daily

Congratulations! You have just made it to the most southern point of Taiwan, just in time for the sunset and ice cream sundaes on the beach. Alternatively, you may go to Kenting’s mouthwatering night market for some fresh fruit and mouthwatering dumplings. Even if Chinese cuisine predominates on this island, Taiwan is not going to let that stop it from making its imprint and contributing its own flavors to the world of chocolate.

In the next years, we will witness an increase in the quantity and quality of chocolate sold in emerging chocolate markets as a result of the increased production of cacao in previously unexplored regions of the globe. We want other sources of high-quality cacao, and I have a feeling that they may have located another excellent one in Taiwan’s chocolate production on a smaller scale.

If you liked this post, please pin it so that others can find it, too!

Have you ever been to Taiwan? Where is the strangest place you have ever eaten chocolate?


Does cacao grow on Taiwan?

Cacao Along Taiwan’s West Coast

Along the western coast, six of these locations are devoted to the cultivation of cocoa on farms of varied sizes. I attempted on three consecutive occasions to purchase a kilogram of cacao, but I was unsuccessful each time. Virtually all of the cacao farmed on the island is of the more resilient forastero strain, and it is in great demand.

What do cacao trees have to do with chocolate?

Cacao, the primary ingredient in chocolate, originates from the bean-like fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree. (The phrase “meal of the gods” is what the Greek term theobroma practically translates to.) In the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, this type of tree may be seen flourishing.

Where are cocoa plantations found?

Together, Ivory Coast and Ghana are responsible for the production of more than half of the world’s cocoa, making them the two most important cocoa-producing countries. After these two, the next largest cocoa producers are nations such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, and Ecuador respectively.

Is cacao grown in plantations?

Cacao plantations have been responsible for 14% of the total deforestation that has occurred in Côte d’Ivoire. These plantations today occupy 2 million hectares (almost 5 million acres) (Pallix et Comolet, 1996). About 500,000 farmers and their families are responsible for the cultivation of cacao plants, with each farm typically including an average of 4 hectares (10 acres) of land.

Which country grows the best cacao?

Cacao beans from Ecuador are often regarded as among the finest in the world. Ecuador is responsible for about 63% of the world’s “Fine Aroma” cacao production, which accounts for just around 5% of the world’s total cacao supply.

What country is the number one producer of cacao?

Coast of Ivory
More than 2 million tons of cocoa are produced annually in Ivory Coast, making it the world’s leading cocoa producer.

What is the difference between cacao cocoa and chocolate?

The cacao tree, which is native to tropical regions, is the source of chocolate. Cacao, cocoa, and chocolate are all derived from the cacao bean, which is the purest form of chocolate. Cacao may be harvested and eaten directly, whereas cocoa is roasted and ground into a powder.