Alta Verapaz - The people behind your cacao from Guatemala
Feb 27, 22
Running an agroforestry farm and preparing cacao is a lot of work and this needs many skilled people in the whole process. The hard work on the land is usually done by men. The more delicate work of processing the cacao is done by the women. We are very happy to share about the people from Finca El Porvenir in Guatemala who make this possible and to put them in the spotlight.
About 35 people work on the farm and in the peak harvest even up to 75. A mix of youngsters and older experienced men and women.
Genry and Fredi are two strong young guys who are part of the harvest team. They are super fast on the steep and slippery hills where the cacao grows. They showed us how they harvest the cacao. Even with a heavy bag of cacao pods on their back they are twice as fast as we are in the field 😅. Thanks guys for this hard work!
Isabella is the maestra of toasting the cacao beans. This is done by hand over a traditional clay comal. It takes experience to know exactly when the beans are ready. Olga is one of the other tostadoras. She learned to work with cacao from the elders and hopefully in the future she will teach her skills to the younger generation.
Jose Luis is the general manager of the farm. He works a lot directly with Beronica and Laurent, the owners of the farm, and manages the guys in the field. There is always something that goes on or needs to be fixed and organised. You can really rely on him, knows the land very well and is always in a good mood greeting you with a big smile.
Luis is overseeing the fermentation and quality of the cacao. He has an exquisite smell and taste. Together with Beronica he makes the soft and nutty flavour cacao specifically for us. Fermentation is an art in itself. A delicate process that needs to be monitored daily. He checks the temperature and cuts open beans to know exactly what to do. When he tumbles the cacao from one box into another he almost dives into the box to make sure all the beans are collected out of every corner. He selects the right banana leaves to cover the cacao for the fermentation in wooden boxes.
Alma, Delia & Oscar are part of the team for processing, peeling and packing the cacao. They take good care for a clean workspace and are often laughing together. Especially when we where stone grinding cacao by hand they paused their work to see what is going on and giggle a lot to see us trying to do our best.
José Chub is the beekeeper. He only speaks Q’ckchi, the local Mayan language, like all the workers actually. It’s just some who speak Spanish. He lives all the way up the mountain, walks all the way to the finca, and knows the lands very well. There are many bee hives at the farm and he cares for the bees who are important pollinators throughout the whole place. The honey that he gets from them is incredibly delicious. Also some of the bee wax is used to make candles that we used for a ceremony.
There are many more people working on the farm and who we are very grateful for. We asked who would like to have a photo taken to show the faces behind the work. Not everyone wants this and some are very shy too. But we’re equally grateful to all who are not in this list!