Northwest Chocolate Fest 2013

Well we are back home after a wonderful weekend is Seattle.  The Northwest Chocolate Festival was a huge success, and we were proud to be participants.  Chocolate was sampled, friendships were formed , and countless hours were spent geeking out over chocolate processing.  We also walked away with a bronze award for our 72% Belize in the single origin chocolate category, which was a huge honor for us.  Hurray for Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize and their high quality cacao beans!  

Looking forward to next years Northwest Chocolate Festival.  

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Belizean Cacao Wins First-Ever Fine Chocolate Award

SEATTLE, WA, USA – For the first time in history, a chocolate bar made entirely with cacao from the Toledo District in Belize has won an international fine chocolate award.

The winning bar, which was awarded on September 20th at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, Washington, USA, was made with cacao sourced from Maya Mountain Cacao and its network of over 200 organic smallholder farmers in Toledo. Dick Taylor, based in California, crafted the chocolate bar and called it “72% Belize Toledo.” The award placed Belize in the bronze category for “Single Origin Dark” chocolate bars, the first time Belizean cacao has been formally recognized for its uniquely high quality.

“It is due time for Belize and its cacao farmers to have this recognition in the fine chocolate industry,” says Gabriel Pop, Field Director for Maya Mountain Cacao. “The tree genetics, soils, and post-harvest processing we have here are world-class.”

“There is already incredibly high demand for Belizean cacao,” says Emily Stone, Managing Director of Maya Mountain Cacao. “We have buyers lined up and regularly receive requests for cacao beans from all over the world. Now with this award, we expect even more interest in Belize’s delicious, flavorful cacao beans that make the world’s best chocolate.”

Maya Mountain Cacao is investing in new cacao farms through a combination of its own private capital and a microfinance partnership with Kiva, a non-profit that connects lenders around the world with small-scale borrowers. There are 75 cacao farmers currently enrolled in Maya Mountain’s Kiva credit program who are using those loans to expand and rehabilitate cacao farms to meet growing demand, and the number of farmers receiving credit is expected to increase in coming months and years.

Organic cacao is best grown in a biodiverse agroforestry system, which offers a variety of income generating opportunities for farmers in cacao, timber, and fruit trees while preserving Belize’s valuable forests and providing habitat for wildlife.

For more information, Maya Mountain Cacao can be found online at or follow Maya Mountain Cacao on Facebook for regular updates about the company’s work with cacao growers and chocolate makers to create a sustainable and high-value supply chain for Belizean farmers.

The list of Northwest Chocolate Festival awards can be found here: