Indigenous Maya family farmers
Our Ceremonial Cacao is sourced from indigenous Maya families our of southern Belize and the highlands of Guatemala. Their traditions and knowledge that has been kept for thousands of years by the indigenous Maya about their sacred farming practices, have been passed down from generation upon generation. With this awareness, love and deep respect the cacao is being shared in community and offered in many of their ceremonies to the energies of creation. The medicine of cacao has been used by these communities since ancestral times to show gratitude to the universe and creation and still is up to day an integrated part of their culture and sustains all levels of the pyramid of human development.
CEREMONIAL GRADE CACAO
Ceremonial Cacao holds special significance for the Maya. They believed that humans were gifted Cacao by the gods to infuse spirit and essence into the body. It is considered a symbol of life and fertility, nurturing our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The Maya have always consumed cacao with gratitude to Mother Earth for nourishing our body, mind, and soul, and with deep reverence for the cosmos that this ancient plant medicine can connect us to. They believe cacao can help us heal, deepen our connection to our heart, our community, Mother Nature herself, and our higher self. In their sacred rituals, ceremonial cacao was initially offered back to the Earth, the mother of all, as an acknowledgment of the energy that created our existence. It was then consumed as a sacred elixir, strengthening the connection to the divine and opening a dialogue with our ancestors. Ceremonial Cacao was also utilised for healing and fostering social and communal bonds. With this awareness, love, and deep respect, the cacao is being shared in the community and offered in many of their ceremonies to the energies of creation. Click here to read more about what a Cacao Ceremony is..
MAYA MOUNTAIN - BELIZE
Our cacao from Belize is sourced from around 400 different indigenous Maya family farmers. These family farmers are from 2 different Maya nations: Mopan & Q’eqchi, located in the region know as Maya Mountains, which also happens to be the least-developed and most rural region of Belize. The ancient native criollo variety of cacao grows naturally here on their sacred lands in the Maya Mountains, where they have been farming organic ceremonial grade cacao from generation upon generation.
The cacao tree is regarded as sacred trees to the indigenous Maya and is locally referred to as “Cucu” by the Maya Q’eqchi Nation. Cacao truly flourishes here in the biodiversity of the Maya Mountains and grows in perfect harmony in the shades of other local banana, avocado, coconut, cashew and vanilla trees. Upon planting a new cacao tree a ceremony is being held and the local maya spiritual leader / elder will ask permission to the energies of existence for prosperity and abundance of good quality cacao beans.
The harvesting season is between January and June & around October / November when temperatures are low.. The freshly harvested, unfermented cacao beans (wet cacao beans) are then collected by a 100% Belizean Maya team, to a centralised fermentation centre of Maya Mountain in the Toledo district. Here the special beans undergo three unique stages of sun drying. After they are carefully selected and hand sorted to ensure the highest quality and flavour consistency.
Maya Mountain Cacao consists of a small 100% Belizean Maya team, which is the first established social enterprise in the country who buys the wet (unfermented) beans directly from the indigenous Maya family farmers. The Maya Mountain team is then focussed on the quality in both the raw beans, and throughout the fermentation and drying process. This in turn empowers the Maya Mountain team to pay the local family farmers not only consistently throughout the seasons, but extremely well for these special sacred cacao beans compared to the local market price. The aim is to support the Maya communities in the local regions to flourish, to empower women farmers to get financially independent and thus creating a real positive environmental and social impact for this underdeveloped region of southern Belize.
Lachua - Guatemala
Our cacao from Guatemala is sourced from the indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya families, many of whom live off grid in the highlands of Guatemala around the Laguna Lachuá,- a large pristine Cenote lake. The cacao tree has been grown here natively for thousands of years in perfect harmony together with honey, cardamom, corn which provided the subtle tones to this fine flavoured and rare cacao bean. Everything on their lands is grown naturally / organically and in biodiversity, which is the perfect condition for cacao to flourish.
The Indigenous Q’eqchi’ communities have been the guardians of the sacredness of cacao & preserved the sacred fire ceremonies & cacao through thousands of years of suppression. The Lachuá Communities have been able to protect their sacred land around the Laguna Lachuá Cenote and protect it from palmoil industry, by collaborating through local projects supported by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), FUNDALACHUA, and FundaSistemas, with the shared goal of protecting the Laguna and improving their quality of life
The Indigenous Maya family farmers pass their knowledge about the sacred plants from generation upon generation and harvest their cacao with deep respect for “La Madre Tierra”, supporting organic and sustainable farming throughout their community.
Criollo & HEIRLOOM
Criollo cacao is an heirloom variety, often referred to as the “Queen of Cacao” and only makes up around 5% of the world’s cacao production. Heirloom cacao beans are truly the diamonds of the cacao tree, producing the finest and best of the best of the world’s cacao. For cacao to be designated Heirloom they have to be endowed with a combination of historic, cultural, botanical, geographical and flavour value.In 2015 Maya Mountain cacao was designated Heirloom Cacao by the Heirloom Preservation Project (HCP) for a set of farms in the villages of San Antonio, Santa Elena, and Pueblo Viejo, in the Toledo District of Belize. It also has the distinction of being one of the top 20 cacao’s in the world!
We at Herbal Cacao believe in more than just profit. We believe in the power of giving back and strengthening the communities that inspire our journey. That’s why, in addition to creating exceptional products, we are committed to making a positive impact on the world around us.
Our commitment to fairness goes beyond the standard Fairtrade practices. We understand that we can do better, and we’ve taken concrete steps to ensure that we do. In our pricing structure, we go above and beyond, allowing more then just standard market price to flow back to the source. This means that on average, we pay 125% more than the West African commodity price for the cacao we source.
But it doesn’t stop there. We believe in creating a ripple effect of positive change. When we visit the Maya communities we personally donated part of our profits and actively contribute to educational programs that promote organic and sustainable cacao farm productivity, protection of their lands, traditions & culture and preservation.
These visits allow us to connect with the indigenous Maya family farmers, who consistently support each other and their community-focused initiatives, to sustain the ancient organic cacao farming practices, where everyone involved is working together to provide the world with their high quality fine, flavoured cacao, that is if classified organic and ceremonial grade. In this way we complete the circle of strengthening communities throughout our supply chain
By choosing our products, you are not just indulging in high quality ceremonial cacao; you are also contributing to a chain of positive change that empowers communities, preserves traditions, and fosters sustainability. Together, we can do better than the standard Fairtrade model, and together, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of the Maya communities we cherish.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.