Kristen & Joshua (the newest addition to the Origins team) reporting from colorful Guatemala! Guatemala in the Mayan language means “land of many trees,” and we’ve found ourselves in the heart of a tropical jungle dedicated to the biodiversity of the forest.
Our new friend & partner, Laurent, owner of El Porvenir Agroforestry Farm, set forth on a mission to protect a plant that we all known and love — one that has been sacred to the indigenous people of Central America for thousands of years — cacao. Cacao is at the heart and soul of every morsel of chocolate that you have ever consumed. In its raw form, it is a potent medicine. Not only is it packed with antioxidants, magnesium, calcium and iron — on an energetic level it is a powerful heart opener, boosting serotonin. It also contains the bliss and love molecules (anandamide and phenylethylamine). Additionally, cacao contains the compound theobromine, “Food of the Gods,” theo meaning God and broma meaning food. It reduces blood pressure while improving your blood circulation.
There are three distinct varieties of cacao growing in the world. The variety which has been used ceremonially in Guatemala and much of Central America for thousands of years is known as “Criollo.” It’s is distinguished from other varieties because of it’s pure white seeds (rather than brown). Criollo cacao differs in flavor and has stronger medicinal constituents. Genetically this variety has recessive traits, making it unable to co-exist with other varieties of cacao with dominant genes. With the dominance of other commercial varieties of cacao, Criollo cacao has been driven to the verge of extinction.
Our friend Laurent and his wife, Veronica, pictured here, are dedicated to protecting this sacred variety of cacao. We had the incredible opportunity to spend time on their 1000 acre agroforestry project. At El Porvenir Agroforestry Farm, they have planted a diverse variety of over 250,000 trees, including cacao and various hardwoods, restoring the forest’s natural biodiversity which was previously decimated by intensive coffee production. They go through extreme measures to select and propagate pure criollo cacao plants; each tree is grown from a hand-selected seed. Their good work has created more biodiversity in the forest, and has also pioneered a method to help criollo cacao not only survive but thrive!
This coming Origins season, look forward to learning more and tasting the magic of this important project in our specialty drinks and desserts! We’ll also be serving cacao ceremonially at select events. Stay tuned!