Belize, Toledo

bean source: Maya mountain cacao

Flavor profile: Honey, pineapple & raisin

price paid in 2022: $7.80/kg (289% above fair trade organic minimum)

farmgate price: $3.13/KG


Belize, known for its beautiful lush landscapes and fertile soil, grows some of the best cacao beans that we use to make some of our finest chocolate. This jewel of Central America has a long, rich indigenous history of cacao use and cultivation. A very important player in this field is Uncommon Cacao, a company that set up Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize, and whose work there has made a big difference in the chocolate industry. Maya Mountain Cacao is committed to growing cacao in a way that's sustainable, transparent, and maintains high standards, while also making a positive impact on the local community. 


Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC), in the Toledo district of southern Belize, has become a model for cacao production. Founded in 2010, their goal was to connect Belizean smallholder farms with craft chocolate makers demanding high quality cacao and transparency in the supply chain. So far they have been very successful in not only producing a fantastic cacao but also deeply impacting the lives of the farmers they work with.  

It was shortly after their foundation, that we started purchasing cacao from them. The quality was obvious and we went on to win a bronze at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, and a Good Food Award all within the first year of working with them. Throughout the years we have seen quality steadily improve as they work on their fermentation and drying techniques at origin. It continues to this day as one of our most award winning chocolate bars.

Such consistent quality only comes through long term relationships and hard work. The team in Belize spends time training and mentoring the over 300 farmers they work with to insure that their farms are managed to the highest standards and are always on hand to answer questions concerning farm management and production. The cacao is purchased wet or “en baba” and then rapidly transported to a centralized fermentation facility constructed by Maya Mountain Cacao. This helps insure that a very consistent fermentation and drying protocol can be maintained. The beans are box fermented and then sun dried on elevated beds in greenhouses. The beans are then hand-sorted for quality by locals before shipment, creating a value added component to the beans. All the hard work on quality has paid off in the years since their foundation, as they have been able to see farmer income increase by 20% and school attendance increase by 85%. There is no doubt that MMC has become a leader in producing exceptional cacao with maximum social impact at origin.


In beautiful Belize, the story of cacao comes to life, spanning centuries, even millennia. The cultivation and trade of cacao are deeply woven into the country's cultural and economic life.

The roots of Belizean cacao farming reach back to the ancient Mayan civilization. Around 600 BC, the Mayans, known as one of the earliest advanced civilizations, started to grow this valuable crop. For them, cacao wasn't just a plant; it held an important position in their society. They used it in religious ceremonies, showcasing its spiritual importance, and it was also a key part of their economy, being used as a form of currency.

Today, the tradition of growing cacao is still strong in Belize. Even with the many changes and advancements in Belizean society, cacao farming has remained a constant. The old practices have been kept alive, handed down through generations, blending subtly with modern techniques while maintaining their traditional core. Belize today is a proud preserver of the ancient cacao farming traditions, showing the resilience and strength of its people and their connection with this remarkable crop.

Walking through the heart of Belize's lowland forests and limestone hills, you can see the long-standing tradition of cacao farming, a practice that is an integral part of Belize's cultural and economic identity. Whether you're following the journey of a cacao bean from a Belizean farm to a finished Dick Taylor chocolate bar or learning about the historical importance of this crop, the story of Belizean cacao is an interesting narrative of persistence, tradition, and progress.



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