Don Santiago, Chiapas Coop.
Life-long Guardian of Cacao
Main Mexican Growing Regions
The states of Tabasco and Chiapas comprise 99% of Mexican cacao production. Inside them there are 5 differentiated growing regions. The plains of the Chontalpa region west of Tabasco concentrate the largest planted area (22000 + ha) and are home of big fermentation, drying and storage centers. The big industry sources cacao from here as an undifferentiated commodity.
The second region is Soconusco (11000 ha of planted area), next to the Guatemalan border, the most renowned when it comes to quality since Aztec and colonial times.
The other three regions are small in comparison: The area between Tabasco and Chiapas (Pichucalco, Teapa, Reforma villages), the area west of Chiapas surrounding the Malpaso damn and the isolated east of Chiapas along the Guatemalan border part of the Lacandona jungle.
Origin Soconusco (Chiapas)
Our Chiapanecan origin comes from Soconusco, an important growing region since Aztec and Spanish times. Our partner is a cooperative founded in 2016 and devoted to the rescue of the heirloom varieties of local cacao, which date back to several millenia BC. In the cacao orchards of the members you can find other fruits such as mamey, lemon, coconuts, pineapples, mangoes; timber-yielding trees like ceibas and cedars and tropical flowers, among them hibiscus, ginger and heliconias.
All plants are integrated in an harmonious and balanced polyculture where cacao pods grow under the shade trees called "madres de cacao". Theses cacaos are a mixture of criollos and trinitarios, the beans when fresh are predominantly white and pink and the shape of the pods have the typical shape of Mexican heirloom varieties: corrugated skin and the typical "lizard" tail.
Our tabasqueño origin comes from Comalcalco, the land where, according to the legend, the god of the evening star Quetzalcóatl planted cacao trees as a gift to the Mexican people before leaving forever the world of mortals.
Our partner is a single grower named Malaquias. One individual grower with the support of our engineer Carlos. Surrounded by huge industrial facilities and harvesting centers, we keep it simple: two people, two hectares of cacao trees, two wooden fermentation boxes, around one tonne of yearly cacao production.
Cacao varieties in this region are what we would call "forastero": Fresh beans are predominantly purple and flatter than criollos and the shape of pods is more round with a smooth skin, thus the name "calabacillo" (little pumpkin).
Origin Tecpatan (Chiapas)
Our newest and most experimental origin. We are supporting a growers association in the Western mountains of Chiapas, the highest (and most isolated) place where cacao is being grown in Mexico. The community of farmers consists mainly of corageous women, as most men have left for the big cities or abroad. Due to the high altitude, constant rainfall and isolation, here you find the purest heirloom cacao beans in all Mexico. We are excited to expand our collaboration with this laborious community.