From this article you will learn not only about the famous Dominicana cocoa balls but in general about cocoa. Cocoa in the Dominican Republic is almost as popular as coffee. And tourists bring as a gift from this country not only rum, cigars and coffee, but also cocoa balls.

Table of contents:

Cocoa from the Dominican Republic: a brief history

I want to immediately note that this article is intended primarily for tourists. If you are planning your vacation in the Dominican Republic, then here you will get the knowledge about cocoa that will help you choose a gift and please yourself and your loved ones.

As for the history of cocoa, I will tell you very briefly, since rewriting Wikipedia in detail is not my forte. But at the same time, understanding the development of the entire Dominican cocoa industry will not be superfluous.

  • Coffee beans were brought here by Columbus himself at the end of the 15th century. But cocoa has always grown in the Dominican Republic. Historians claim that in the Caribbean, the Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa beans for both food and medicine.
Dominicana cocoa balls
Cocoa is extracted from the grains of the fruit of the chocolate tree. Raw fruits in the context look like this.
  • After the discovery of the Dominican Republic by Columbus, the tobacco industry flourished here. Tobacco was grown everywhere and exported to the old world.
  • But tentatively in 1882 there was a big crisis and the price of tobacco fell sharply. In those days, the Dominican Republic was almost entirely dependent on tobacco. And farmers turned their attention to cocoa beans.
  • Starting from the end of the 19th century, cocoa production grew and after 100 years it reached impressive proportions.
  • But at the same time, the Dominicans did not earn much on this, since all raw (not fermented grains) were sent to the United States at extremely low prices.
  • In 1988, several dozen large Dominican farmers formed the CONACADO organization. The purpose of the organization: to get away from the dependence of the United States and organize a full cycle of high-quality cocoa production in the Dominican Republic.
  • Today, this company includes more than 9,000 farmers. And it is one of the world’s largest exporting companies.

Which cocoa product is the most popular among tourists

Everything is simple here. In the Dominican Republic, you can buy cocoa in the following form:

  • fermented cocoa beans. Fermented means already dried and fried. All you have to do is grind them in a coffee grinder. And your natural cocoa powder is ready.
fermented cocoa beans
The photo shows fermented cocoa beans or beans correctly.
  • ready-made cocoa powder. The same as we have at home in the store, only from the Dominican Republic.
  • Dominicana Cocoa balls. This is the most unusual and interesting option.
    • Cocoa beans are ground into a coarse powder. Vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, oils are added to it and rolled into a ball.
    • In the stores of the country you can buy a jar with such balls.
  • Dark chocolate made from local cocoa is very popular in the Dominican Republic.

Good to know:

Cocoa grains, although they look exotic, are not very practical. You can’t do anything with them without a coffee grinder. And if you give it to someone, then most likely they will lie on the shelf for many more years. There is no point in taking cocoa powder home at all. You can buy it in any store in your country and you will not find the difference. But dark chocolate and especially cocoa balls are a very good gift.

And here read about the true Dominican tincture of Mamajuana, what it is, where to buy and how to drink.

Prices for cocoa from the Dominican Republic

Cocoa in the Dominican Republic is relatively inexpensive. A large bar of chocolate (the big one is like in the photo below) will cost $ 3-4.

dark chocolate in the Dominican Republic
Dominican chocolate made from Dominican cocoa.

Dominican cocoa balls price depends on the size of the jar. There are jars with 6 cocoa balls and jars with 10 or even 20 balls. But the price will also be around $5 for an average jar.

Read more about prices in the Dominican Republic for all goods and services which interesting for tourists at the link.

How to cook Dominican cocoa balls

Two prescriptions. One classic. My second personal, for the lazy, as I cook.

dominican cocoa balls best gift
A jar of cocoa balls looks like this. Available in any big store.

Recipe 1:

  • Take a ball. They come in different sizes. And grate.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of grated cocoa to hot milk or water.
  • And stir intensively.
  • If added to milk, then bringing to a boil is not required. If added to water, then you can boil for a couple of minutes.

Good to know:

1 tablespoon grated cocoa is half a large ball. The more you add it to the glass, the richer the taste will be.

Recipe 2 (author’s):

  • Take 1 large ball and a glass of hot milk.
  • We throw a ball there and stir.
  • You will have to stir a little longer and more intensively.
  • There are two tips/life hacks:
    • Until the ball has dissolved, you can put the mug in the microwave for 30 seconds and heat the milk
    • I also take a knife. I heat it under hot water and cut the ball into 4 pieces. So it will melt faster in milk.

Interesting to know:

Locals like to throw 2 balls on a glass of milk, then consider drinking hot chocolate.
dominican cocoa balls where is to buy
Actually, this is the cocoa balls themselves from the Dominican Republic.

And at the link you can read an article about the national dishes of the Dominican Republic.

Travel Tips

Not much advice here, but still:

  • It is better to take home as a gift – Dominican cocoa balls.
  • I recommend bringing more cocoa balls from the Dominican Republic. There are no restrictions on the export of cocoa. There are limits on cigars and rum, but more about this in the article about Dominican airports.
  • Also pay attention to the dark chocolate bars.
  • You can buy cocoa balls in large stores in the department with chocolates. You can still buy it in souvenir shops, but look at the expiration date there, since nobody knows how long it stored there.

And about the fruits of the Dominican Republic, read in a separate article. Many expect fruit abundance here, as in Southeast Asia, but no.

In addition to cocoa balls from the Dominican Republic, most travelers also bring snail cream. All about this in the article at the link.

In conclusion: cocoa balls from the Dominican Republic are one of the most unexpected and original gifts for friends and family. Everyone is waiting for rum and cigars, but it is also in Cuba, and Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. But such balls will surprise many.

Gorgeous chocolate milkshakes to you!

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Dominican Republic

  • Flights at the best prices with discounts
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – a largest international resource
  • Hotels and apartments:
    • Hotellook – compares hotel prices among dozens of booking platforms and offer you the best price.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Dominican Republic.
  • Vacation packages:
    • Expedia – best deals from Europe.
    • CheapOair – cheap packages from all US cities.
  • Tours, excursions and extreme activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 800+ tours and water activities.
    • Viator – 3500+ tours and excursions in Dominican.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo – eSIM with internet package.
    • Drimsim – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel