Our Trip to Belize: Harvesting with Maya Mountain Cacao

By Orissa Agnihotri & Brielle Milano


Fostering close relationships with our cacao farmers is a key value at Raaka.  Earlier this May, Raaka’s Director of Sales, Brielle Milano and I had the opportunity to travel to Belize to visit one of the wonderful cacao cooperatives that Raaka sources from - Maya Mountain Cacao.  We spent a week working alongside the MMC team buying wet cacao, giving out samples of Raaka to local cacao farmers, and learning about cacao farming, processing and exporting.

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Dark with Sea Salt's New Digs

Raaka was founded on two simple pillars: make great chocolate that actually tastes like cacao beans, and source all our ingredients ethically and sustainably. 

In craft chocolate, every ingredient counts. Great beans are the foundation of great chocolate, but the tiny flourishes matter too, like the salt we use for our 71% Sea Salt bar.

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What is virgin chocolate?

Being neither raw nor roasted, Raaka is different kind of chocolate. Our process is gentle; our flavors are vibrant. This is virgin chocolate.

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Indigenous Chocolatiers: The Kuna People

Both Mayan and Aztec cultures revered cacao as a gift from the gods, consuming it ritualistically, attributing strength and vigor to its ingestion. Modern science has proven their observations to be correct, revealing cocoa’s stimulating properties and beneficial effects on brain and circulatory health. One of the most touted confirmations of cacao as a health food comes from a group of studies on the Kuna people, an indigenous culture of Central American Indians in Panama. Like the Mayans and the Aztecs, the Kuna have long been sipping on several different variations of a cacao based beverage, which they call Siagwa.

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Growing Ethically: A Look at Maya Mountain Cacao

We created Raaka to make chocolate that reflects the human element in every bar. Chocolate, a source of joy for many in the West, is often the product of great injustice throughout the developing world. The chocolate industry has historically exploited the two most crucial and meaningful foundations of its business: the farmers and the land.  In the past decade, several major chocolate producers have been linked to child labor and poor wages, while the monoculture model of the cacao farm has been responsible for rampant deforestation. 

Maya Mountain Cacao is helping to change the industry.

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