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Jun 3, 2020

More than Organic, Traditional Chocolate Bars!

Tonight we take you back down south to Maya Center Village for part two of our story with Julio Saqui, the co-owner of Che’il Mayan Chocolate. Making authentic and organic chocolate bars is only one aspect of the business. In the following story we’ll show you how this enterprising local chocolate producer has turned the cacao into a zero waste fruit inside his facility. Here’s the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Che’il Mayan Chocolate produces over four thousand chocolate bars per month. This local brand is most known for these traditional chocolates. But they also make other value added products, and they also sell by-products at their shop. So, how do they do this? At Che’il Mayan Chocolate, nothing goes to waste. This zero waste practice starts from the farm to the factory. On the farm, once the cacao are harvested and the cocoa beans are extracted, the empty pods are returned to the ground where they serve as natural compost for the farm. And once the beans are collected and transferred to the facility for processing – co-owner of Che’il Maya Chocolate Julio Saqui begins to look for new ways to add value to his business, increase his bottom line and provide new products for the market.

 

Julio Saqui, Co-owner, Che’il Mayan Chocolate

“When they set the beans to ferment, sixty percent to seventy percent of that is juice but basically goes into waste and when it goes into waste you are left with thirty to thirty six percent of that as dried beans. Now, when you have that dried beans in your hands automatically the price increases and it is no longer the same because you waste a lot of it. Now, my head keeps clicking how do we fetch more money in?  Because we paid a lot of money and because we paid a lot of money for it that allows the chocolate price to increase and so how do I bring down the price of chocolate is my main objective – and so I went to the idea that if begin to used the by-products maybe I can sell that a little bit to bring in more revenue back into the business.”

 

…and one of those novel ideas is by creating a drink from the fermenting cocoa beans. And as Saqui found out, he can make multiple drinks, including wine and juice.

 

Julio Saqui

Julio Saqui

“So, then I start playing with the juice a lot. I will tell you that I am crazy. When I started playing with the juice, I make the wine fairly well because we turn the juice into wine.   So, what else can I do besides that? What has been happening is that I have been playing a lot with the cacao juice. So, I now make a fizz drink almost like a champagne. I make that and still playing with a lot of that product and see how much shelf life I can have with it. I can also make just regular cacao juice by bottling them and you open them just like how you drink a fanta or a mango juice. It is the same thing in bottles. I just have to get out there and mass produce it but I have been able to do that.”

 

…and when the seeds have fermented, they are dried and then roasted. And then they are shelled before they are put into a grinder. But at Che’il Maya Chocolate, those shells don’t go in the trash. One night, Saqui was producing chocolates by hand when he had a little accident with some hot water – the next day that presented him with a new opportunity that has resulted in cocoa tea and tea bags.

 

Julio Saqui

“When I walked into this room just the aroma was like – wow – what is this? It was so sweet and smelled so beautiful. And I lifted the pot to throw outside and that is what smelled so good.    I said, oh my goodness, this is really good. So, that then propelled me into how do I mass produce it and package it for people now can take it and use it just like any other tea. That was the beginning of the cacao tea – so with the shells of the cacao beans we now make cacao tea. But it is not just the shells and packaging it because it is gonna get moldy and gonna go wrong – so we have got to put the shells back into fermentation, flavoring and adding the natural preservatives from the roots that we use and bring back out into drying and then comes into grinding and packaging. That shell is a major seller – it sells like crazy and sometimes that is all the guest wants because it doesn’t spoils, it doesn’t melt; its keeps for long time and for me that is a major winner.”

 

…and to get more value from the cacao processing – Saqui now produces high quality, organic cocoa butter. Another by-product is this multi-use natural cocoa powder that can be used in pastries, candies and other foods. His experiments and tinkering in the facility also resulted in this instant drink mix.

 

Julio Saqui

“We make the instant chocolate drink and that is something that is also crazy for me because how do I use this waste product? I don’t like to see waste – we are possibly the only facility that doesn’t have a dumpsite. We use everything. So, after I realize that there is this whole bunch of sediments from the powder, I said what can I do with it? In my little lab I play with a lot of stuff until I came up with that instant hot chocolate mix. Now I can mass produce. We also acquired the machine that can pulverize it for us professionally so that it looks like a state of the art factory not knowing it can come from a small little community where nobody would think magic is happening.”

 

But that’s not all – Saqui is already testing out new ways of how the cacao bean can be used for some more by-products.

 

Julio Saqui

“I am playing with making the chocolate sauce, just like how you would do the hot sauce but in chocolate flavor and then doing the other product that I am crazy about – the salad dressing. You know, you buy the Thousand Island in plastics – well something like that but all from cacao.  So, we make crazy little products, by-products like that but from the cacao we started off just making chocolate and now we can make other products. And, that for me, that is a major winner and a winner also for the community because the community is a part of what we are doing.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

We’ll have part three of our story on Thursday.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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