Guatemalan Cacao Growers Have Grit!

Guatemalan Cacao Growers Have Grit!

Cacao Verapaz was founded in 2014 in Guatemala as a sister company to Maya Mountain Cacao of Belize and as a part of the Uncommon Cacao Group. Cacao Verapaz began by supporting local associations in developing fermentation and drying operations to produce specialty cacao for export, including providing ongoing technical assistance on post-harvest practices, quality control, organic practices, and agronomy.

Developing New Models

Cacao Verapaz and the producer associations have navigated many difficult conditions together over the years including climate change impacts like droughts, hurricanes and harvest seasonality changes; limited infrastructure and long, remote stretches of rough roads; challenges from local intermediaries who historically have purchased low quality cacao at volatile pricing without commitments to producers; and more, all while building the facilities, associativity, post-harvest practices, certification compliance, and other requirements for the first specialty cacao to be offered for export from Guatemala.

Association Spotlight - ADIOESMAC 

One of the associations working with Cacao Verapaz is The Association of Integrated Development “OX EEK” Santa Maria Cahabón (ADIOESMAC). Originally founded in 2004 ADIOESMAC cultivates and sells cacao, cardamom, cinnamon, and chili peppers. Their cacao has been awarded the Cocoa of Excellence in 2019 and highlights flavor notes of orange peel and toasted almond.

High Altitude Cacao

Perched on a mountaintop overlooking the extensive jungled hills of the Cahabón region, ADIOESMAC processes organic cacao using cascading wooden fermentation boxes and a combination of greenhouse dryers, raised bamboo decks, and drying patios. Seasonal harvests for this area are February to August, with the peak season March to June. 

Ultra Premium Genetics

Historically the Guatemalan government, then led by a president originally from the Cahabon region, organized a large-scale project to bring hundreds of sticks of fresh budwood (cacao plant material for grafting) from the famous Finca Brillantes on the south coast of Guatemala to the area.  

Grafted seedlings were distributed from 1982-1985 to over 5,000 families.  The budwood distributed was primarily cacao known as UF-665 and UF-667, which results in extremely consistent and large bean size, with less than 50 beans per 100g! 

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