Just half an hour’s drive from Marbella, in the unsuspecting mountain village of Mijas, surrounded by quaint Andalusian streets and breathtaking views, you’ll find the most magical place amongst the white-washed buildings and blue skied hues: A chocolate factory called Mayan Monkey Mijas, which is a workshop wonderland and a chocolate lover’s paradise.
Article by Sophie Gatward Wicks
Apart from producing some of the tastiest chocolate in Spain (maybe even on earth), Mayan Monkey Mijas holds the title as the world’s smallest chocolate factory, adding to the charm and endearing persona of this establishment. The factory, which has a museum area of machinery exhibits, also sells its products in the shop front which doubles as a café. With ample seating outside, and perfectly situated at the top of the ‘Plaza Virgen de la Peña’ square in the village centre, this delectable eatery is a great spot to sit and enjoy the ambience, have a drink, and taste some of the highest quality sweet treats the region has to offer.
The factory and museum part of the business is positioned at the back of the shop/café, where you can attend a workshop session to experience being a chocolatier! With sessions ranging from 15 minutes to several hours, you can spend varying amounts of time learning how chocolate is made and have a go at designing your own cacao creations.
Guided by a master in the craft, who will take you through the process of making your very own personal brand of chocolate, you are guaranteed that the end result will taste great and look fantastic. The factory offers white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate, with the option to incorporate a selection of ganache and caramelised fillings, and over 50 different spices, fruits, nuts and toppings to customise your chocolates just the way you like them. For those that appreciate an artistic flair, there is even edible powdered paints you can use, some with glitter in them, that you can brush over the top of your hand-made confectionery.
Even if you don’t have an innate love of chocolate, the gourmet desserts available at Mayan Monkey Mijas are guaranteed to win you over with the first bite. Their baked goods are naturally gluten-free, due to the organic besan flour used, which is stone-ground by a family-run flour mill in the neighbouring village of Coín. They also have a wide range of lactose-free gelatos and sorbets, which is the perfect accompaniment on hot sunny days. If you love the taste of traditional recipes, their dairy ice creams contain only the highest quality organic milk which is sourced from Galicia in the North of Spain.
And they really do value traditional methods. Their pistachio ice cream, for example, is prepared just like it was one hundred years ago, by first salting and roasting pistachio kernels in their factory, then grinding them in a stone grinder for 24 hours to produce a high-quality creamy paste, which is lastly infused with organic cream and milk.
Not to mention their milk chocolate is made without any palm fats or cheap cacao butter substitutes, and their single-origin dark chocolate has just two ingredients – cacao beans and cane sugar, of course ethically sourced and free from any artificial flavours or preservatives.
Sustainability is part of the ethos at Mayan Monkey Mijas, where they care as intensely about the gastronomic quality of their products as much as their ethical impact. Their tagline “Find Happy, Share Happy” is evident not only in the way they run their business behind the scenes, but also in their workshop experiences, hosted in the “Happiness Lab” (The factory part of the shop). Yes, chocolate can make you happy all on its own, but the staff who run the workshops exude some seriously good vibes too, maintaining a fun, encouraging and positive atmosphere from the moment you step through the door. For children in particular, the workshops are uniquely engaging, and will have them smiling from ear to ear, feeling like a golden ticket winner from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
There is even a special treasure hunt, where kids have to look around the shop to find and adopt their very own Mayan Monkey plush toy, and receive a personalised story book. These books are printed in-house with your child’s name and likeness, ready for you to take home on the day of your experience.
Workshops range from 19.95€ to 99.95€, and can cater for Birthdays, or other bespoke events. Becoming a chocolatier for the day is certainly a great way to get together and celebrate, have a fun team building exercise or marking a milestone occasion. The best part is that everyone gets to go home with the chocolates they’ve made at the end. (Seriously, this is the best part because they are so incredibly delicious).
With Christmas just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for designing seasonally themed gifts. We’re just contemplating our next chocolate bar creations now. A bit of ginger, some toasted almonds… Cinnamon, cardamom or cloves with white chocolate? What pairs well with nutmeg? And mint chocolate is a must. The dark kind. Mmmm… We can’t wait for our next visit!
To discover more about Mayan Monkey Mijas, visit their website.
Chocolate Factory-Museum / Shop / Café / Workshops & tours:
Mayan Monkey Mijas, 15 Plaza Virgen de la Peña, 29650 Mijas Pueblo
Phone/Whatsapp: (+34) 629 466 710 / (+34) 600 088 542