Finca Köbö: The chocolate way of life

World Learning’s Experiment in International Living students visited a sustainable chocolate farm in Costa Rica, where they learned what it takes to make the treat — from tree to table — while also participating in the program’s outdoor, experiential activities along the way.

Finca Köbö is a farm that believes food production is closely linked to preservation. In addition to cacao beans, they grow over 30 species of fruits and vegetables and are focusing on creating agricultural ecosystems that protect soil, water, and nature, while trying to survive against industrial competition. The students talk about their visit in their own words:

Our journey at Finca Köbö (a sustainable Costa Rican chocolate farm) began by putting our luggage into our beautiful, treehouse-like rooms and immediately driving to the beach. We played a game of “keep away” in the ocean — boys vs. girls. After the girls mercilessly dominated, and the boys accepted their defeat, we went back to Finca Köbö.

Our return was followed by an amazing dinner prepared with love by our host and the owner of Finca Köbö, Alex, and his staff, Elner, Deiver, and Jessica. The next morning we sat down for a very colorful breakfast with various fruit they grow there.

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Participants tour the farm

Shortly afterwards, we went on a tour of the farm led by Juan Luis, a guide who decided to stop working on his family’s industrial dairy farm because he preferred Alex’s sustainable vision. We tried a large variety of fruits that we have never seen before, and we learned about the process of growing and picking cacao, drying the beans out and turning them into high-quality pure chocolate.

That afternoon, we were shown the power of Costa Rican rain and spent the rest of the day at the farm relaxing and enjoying the cool breeze it brought on. On our final day, we went down to the beach to kayak. We paddled through the mangroves, enjoying the sights and sounds. We were even greeted by a crocodile or two.

After our excursion in the kayaks, we headed back to Finca Köbö and helped out with some farm work in the afternoon.

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Enjoying dinner — with sustainable chocolate!

Some of our group helped the friendly and inviting kitchen staff make delicious empanadas for dinner and we enjoyed our last night eating chocolate cake and fruit with chocolate fondue, made from that very farm.

Next, we are off to the northern part of the country to visit the Ostional turtle conservation project!

The Experiment in International Living’s Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainability program takes high school students abroad to live and work alongside host families and other local residents on a community service learning project that focuses on rural development and ecological sustainability.

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