At IXCACAO, we offer full tours of our facilities...
THE FARM: IXCACAO uses cacao grown on our two farms in the Toledo district. Our family works together to plant and harvest over 100 acres of cacao pods from trees. We also grow our own sugar-cane to be used as a sweetener, and ginger and spices for flavouring, During the months of November - May, the cacao pods are ripe for harvest and we collect them to begin the chocolate-making process.
THE PREPARATION: First, we must crack open the pods to collect the cacao seeds, about 40 to each pod. The seeds then are set to ferment for a week underneath banana leaves, during which they become "cocoa beans." The beans are laid out to dry under the sun for another week. Then, the beans are roasted to bring out the chocolate flavor and separated from their thin dry shells. Finally, the beans are "winnowed," or sorted as cocoa nibs from their shells. Now we are ready to make chocolate!
THE FACTORY: Next, we bring the cocoa nibs over to the "metate" grinding stone - a traditional Maya device. The nibs are ground into a smooth cocoa paste. Adding granulated sugar and additional cocoa butter to the paste can determine the specific sweetness and flavor. Then, the substance is heated and cooled in the tempering process to reach the desired consistency. Finally, the chocolate is pressed into shaped molds before drying. The result: a chocolate bar.
THE GIFT SHOP We invite all of our guests to visit our gift shop to see the full range of our delicious products. We also sell a variety of local Belizean crafts.