Juan, Abelina, Lucresha, and Henry Cho Replanting cacao trees on our farm
WHO WE ARE: IXCACAO is a family-owned business in San Felipe, Toledo District, Belize, established in 1985. We make home-made authentic Maya chocolate products from organic cacao pods grown on our farm. From the cacao fields to the finished product, we make our products 100% by hand.
OUR MISSION: At IXCACAO, we believe in sustainable and environmentally conscious chocolate. Our farming techniques allow our rainforest to prosper naturally. Amidst our cacao trees we grow many other plants and use natural compost to invigorate our crops. For every chocolate bar we produce, we plant another cacao tree. We use no large machinery and no chemicals in growing and producing our products.
Since about 2000 BC, chocolate has been an important aspect of culture in MesoAmerica, especially cherished by the Maya and Aztec people. The first traces of chocolate were found at an ancient Maya site called Rio Azul, in Northeastern Guatemala, near to our Toledo District in Belize. According to legend, cacao was first cultivated by the Mayan God, Hun-Apu. Given its divine origin, cacao was considered very sacred by the early MesoAmerican people. Cacao trees grew naturally in the surrounding rainforest environment and thus became an important and versatile part of culture. Cacao seeds were used as currency in trade agreements and also as a means of paying tax to the rulers. The seeds were also used to make chocolate. Ancient chocolate was first consumed as a drink, similar to our modern hot chocolate but unsweetened. To make the chocolate, cacao seeds were fermented, roasted, and ground on the metate - the same one we use at IXCACAO! This hot cocoa was the favourite drink of Mayan kings. In fact, chocolate was so important to the ancient Maya people that they worshipped two cacao Gods, Ek-Chua and Ish-Cacao. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in MesoAmerica, they were enchanted by their discovery of Mayan chocolate and brought the precious cacao tree back to Spain during the 1500's. Chocolate, a foreign imported treat, became a valuable source of commerce for the Spanish empire. Soon, chocolate was being grown and traded throughout Europe and Asia, enjoyed by cultures worldwide. With the Industrial Revolution, the production of chocolate changed forever. The chocolate bar, as we know it, was first invented by a Quaker named John Cadbury in Birmingham, England. Big business hit the chocolate industry and even now, the obsession with chocolate is a worldwide craze.
Cacao pods grown naturally with valuable seeds inside Ancient Mayan ruins Mayan art depicting chocolate as a gift to the Gods Chocolate processing for three days and nights