My passion for chocolate and love of adventure took me to Belize in search of the finest cacao beans in the world.
The tiny country of Belize, tucked into the Mayan jungle between Guatemala and Mexico, is home to some of the best flavor cacao beans in the world. Great cacaos are like fine wines, each one with its own stunningly individual flavor.
When tasting Belizean cacao from the Toledo district I found fruit-forward, deep raisin and tobacco aroma with notes of toasted nuts, plum, and citrus.
The first thing I made with Belizean cacao was hot chocolate. Adding just water and a little honey it changed my world and made me want everyone to experience the awakening I did. The pleasure I get out of watching someone delighted as chocolate melts in their mouth and the realization that all that flavor comes simply from the cacao.
Husband & Wife Team
When exploring Belize and meeting my wife Aravinda I was told to visit the Toledo district of Belize where some of the best cacao in the world is grown. This was my first introduction to the beautiful multi-colored pods. Aravinda and I never intended to buy a cacao farm in the Belizean jungle. But surrounded by the colors and the teeming life, I felt at home.
I returned home to Dana Point, California and sold my home and bought Valley Farm that we re-named Toledo Cacao. To this day the jungle still feels like home. I am more relaxed and in my element surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the jungle.
Bean to Bar
We make our Belizean chocolate from bean to bar, all I add is raw cane sugar and a little extra cocoa butter for smoothness. With 100% cacao in your hand you can decide whether to make a sweet or savory dish and can put your passion to work.
It is a versatile and powerful ingredient, a building block of flavor with the health benefits beyond belief.
The Difference is Flavor
In Belize I came across the special bean that gave me that heart stopping moment of discovery and delight that I now have to share with the world. We use Criollo and Trinitario beans that are less productive but produce a more interesting range of flavors and aromas than Forestaro beans from which more than 75% of the world’s chocolate is made. Forestaro is a hardy, high yielding cacao that give a classic chocolate taste, but tend to be rather bland.
Now we are giving back to the community with our Toledo Cacao Job Development Program that provides training and education for jobs within the Cacao Industry with special attention to highly at-risk youth and Indigenous Mayans (see attached details of the education program).