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.