How Are Chocolates Made From Cacao?

By: Ms. Althea May Gullos, Grade 8 Class Teacher, Davao Steiner Waldorf School

(The Davao Steiner Waldorf School of the Tuburan Institute, Inc had an educational tour at our Gran Verde Farm in Calinan, Davao City sometime back. Here is Teacher Althea’s narration on the visit. We’d like to thank the school, the teachers and the 8th-grade students for visiting our humble farm. We hope to be able to provide more enlightenment and enjoyment on your future visits.)

With Davao Region as the cacao capital (and Davao City as the chocolate capital) of the Philippines, there’s no wonder why sikwate and champorado are common servings in and around Davao. Something we serve for our Tuburan students, too!

On that note, our 8th graders were privileged to experience Kakaw Lakaw in Gran Verde Family Farm to learn about how cacao tableyas/chocolates are made. We were hosted by no other than Tita Wit Holganza who owns and manages the farm, and who’s one of the mains behind Wit’s Sweets & Savouries.

Before the farm tour, we had a bit of history on cacaos— that they’re actually not native to the Philippines, and that they were brought by the Spaniards through the Galleon Trade. We then transitioned to the cacao trees around us which were growing in harmony with all the other fruit- bearing trees and plants. And oh, let’s not forget the chickens walking around which also play a role in keeping the soil healthy with their manure. It was simply enriching that even though cacao was the main theme of the day, we were learning a lot of essentials in keeping a farm healthy.

Now let’s go to one of the favorite parts— product-tasting! We got to taste all of their products (granolas and cacao nibs) and the students were pretty quick in identifying their favorites. It was also interesting to note that one type of cacao nibs had this citrusy taste, and one factor would be the citrus plants nearby. (Say hi to the pollinators!)

From here, we finally geared up for the farm tour. We started by individually picking a cacao tree to observe, and here I realized that I wasn’t really paying much attention to cacao trees for the longest time. It was my first time to observe its tiny blossom, and it’s awe-inspiring how this little one will eventually become a hard-shelled fruit with lots of potentials.

We walked on, learned more about maintaining the cacao trees, and made a stop on a shed where the pod-breaking and fermenting happens. We ate freshly opened cacao fruits and even got to taste the cacao vinegar. Cheers! Then, we proceeded to the “Bularan” where the fermented cacao beans are dried and we learned that it usually takes 7 days to dry the beans under the full sun. (“Taas gyud diay ang process, Ms Althea, noh…”) At this point, snacks were waving. We’re coming!

What a sweet surprise when we reached our hearty snacks decorated with edible flowers. Too pretty, yes! And perfectly paired with our iced cacao drink. Learning continued on as we enjoyed dipping our fried bananas in the chocolate, along with other native delicacies.

Our last stop was the shed where the winnowing and grinding happens. This part was very relevant to our current main lesson on Industrial Revolution because machines were used here to assist the process.

It was also during this time when we asked about the history of the farm, and what Tita Wit shared definitely became one of the students’ highlights! “Dili diay lalim magbuhat ug chocolates Ms Althea, noh…”

Indeed, it’s a long, wonderful process all the way from growing cacao trees to harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting, winnowing, grinding, (refining, tempering), and molding. And it’s been a huge privilege to learn from Tita Wit who’s genuinely passionate about farming and chocolate-making.

Gikan sa among kasingkasing, daghang salamat, Tita Wit, ug sa tanang kamot ug kasingkasing nga nagapalambo sa inyong uma! (From our hearts, thank you, Tita Wit, and to all the hands and hearts that helped sustain your farm!)

Cover photo courtesy of Ms Althea May Gullos. Other pics courtesy of Jesse Bacamante Manuta. For a clearer look, just click on the pics.


    1. ¡Gracias, Elvira! A mi esposa también le gustan los chocolates y decorar la comida con flores de colores. Es por eso que tenemos estos artículos para nuestros visitantes.


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