There’s nothing quite like quitting your job and your life to travel the world to remind you that you really don’t have any worthwhile skills. I’m going to be unemployed for quite a while and thought this year would be a great time to try some new classes and some new adventures.
I was only in Guatemala three short days and not at all keen on venturing out to the lake or the volcanoes. I began looking around at interesting day classes in or around Antigua and settled on two places: the Finca Filadelfia Coffee Resort and Choco Museo. After all, who doesn’t love coffee and chocolate?
Making Real Coffee in Guatemala
The coffee resort offers a number of classes and tours but I was immediately drawn to the latte art class. I am always in awe of people that hand me a cup of coffee with a smiley face on top staring back at me. Though my skills run more the way of stickmen, I gave it a go on my second day in Antigua.
I was alone in the class so nobody was there to see my pitiful attempts at art thankfully. The class was two hours long and began with a tour of the coffee roasting factory and an explanation of the process from bean to bag. It was quite informative, though quite embarrassing when I had to answer “Starbucks” when queried on my favorite type of coffee. The barista noticeably cringed.
In the second half of the class, I learned how to prepare numerous different cups of coffee like espresso and lattes. If I wasn’t so afraid of the milk steamer blowing up in my face, I may just have a career at my favorite place when I’m done this trip. Then it was on to the actual art.
Sadly, my skills have not come a long way since preschool. With a flick of his wrist, my guide could produce stunning landscapes and intricate animals with the milk. I could manage flowers. And a gradeschool-looking landscape. Eventually, after many terrible looking cups, I was finally able to get the hang of it and create some pretty cool looking animals and plants; by the time I managed though they had gone cold. Between the two of us we consumed about eleven cups of cold coffee; drinking your hard work is both sad and thrilling. By the time I tried my last picture, my hands were shaking so bad from the coffee I could not even attempt to say what I was drawing.
Chocolate Making at the Choco Museo
The next morning, I visited the Choco Museo right in Antigua to participate in their Bean to Bar workshop. While I had thought they would explain the process of making chocolate from the bean before letting us make our own chocolate bars, I had not realized we would be doing the entire process ourselves. Our education included actually roasting, peeling and crushing cacao beans until we had made an edible paste. From here we were able to make a number of things; hot chocolate, tea, and of course, chocolate bars. Drinking chocolate tea was a bit of a perplexing experience.
It was actually quite exhausting having to manually crush the beans and I was glad there were children with boundless energy in the class for when my arms got tired. Now I understand why ancient civilizations were so keen for machinery.
Once the chocolate was prepared, we were able to choose our moulds and begin actually making the chocolate bars. I filled mine with milk chocolate, coconut and nuts. Filling was my favorite part: very messy, but the most delicious mistakes to clean up after!
At the end of the class, we were each able to take home a bag full of our delicious handmade chocolate. Effort and hard work has never tasted sweeter. Look for me in a year or two; I’ll be that girl hand-making chocolates for you during your daily Starbucks run.