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Aug 31, 2023

Chocolate from Belize for Belize

The Belize Chocolate Company is among the leading chocolate manufacturers in the country. The industry is made up of only a handful of local producers. Chris and Jo Beaumont moved to Belize two decades ago and started a sailing company. Ten years after their relocation, the couple traveled down to Punta Gorda for the first Cacao Fest. There they discovered the potential in Belize’s cacao industry. What began as an experiment has led to a fully blown chocolate factory using products exclusively from Belize. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story in tonight’s Belize On Reel.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Chris Beaumont and Jo Beaumont established the Belize Chocolate Company, more than fifteen years ago on Ambergris Caye. Today, they sell some two hundred products inside the Belize Chocolate Shop on Barrier Reef Drive in San Pedro Town.


Jo Beaumont

Jo Beaumont, Co-Owner, Belize Chocolate Company

“When we first came to Belize twenty-five years ago we were windsailing and surfing instructors. We set up a very small business outside the Holiday Hotel where we were renting out wind surfing equipment and teaching local tourist. We did that for about five years and then in 2007 we went down to Punta Gorda for the first Cocoa Festival, we bought a bag of beans and started experimenting.”


In 2012, Jo and Chris decided that it was time for them to open a shop. They now employ twenty residents at the store, as well as their newly built factory. Chris gave us a tour of the facility. He showed us how their products are made.


Chris Beaumont

Chris Beaumont, Co-Owner, Belize Chocolate Company

“We buy beans from southern Belize from small family farms and some of the cooperatives that we bring them here unto the island a thousand fifteen hundred pounds a time. The first part of the process we do here on the island is to roast those beans. We have a commercial coffee roaster, a drum roaster, we roast about forty pounds a time in that machine. It takes about eighteen to twenty minutes. Once we done the roasting we do a process called winnowing. The winnowing separates the shell from the nib of the bean. The shell as you saw, we use for tea and stuff like that. The nib is the part we use to make our chocolate. The nib goes eighter to mark chocolate, dark chocolate or a hundred percent liquor so we can separate it into cocoa powder or cocoa butter. We have a cocoa butter press from the Hershey days, actually an Italian press from the 1970s. so it a great machine and it squeezes out the cocoa butter and leaves us with these nice press cakes. The chocolate goes from there and once we have grounded the chocolate in these big wet grinders, steel drums with stone rollers inside and that grinds in their for twenty-four hours to make either our milk, white or darj chocolate. From there it goes into the middle part of the factory where we have the baking the dipping the products are made all that sort of stuff. Then we go to the cool room, sort of nice and cold to get that chocolate to set up nice and well where we make our bars as well and from there it goes into the packing room.”


Inside the packing room, each product is packaged and labeled manually. They are then ready to be sold to wholesale and retail customers, as well as inside the shop. We got a firsthand look at one of the company’s unique products that combines chocolate and art. It is called the Art Bar, and it is yet to hit the market.


Jo Beaumont

“The Art Bar, we haven’t quite launched it yet but it is a new packaging. It is the same Kakaw Bar but we wanted to shake it up a bit. So, we approached four Belizean artists and we have uses their art work and made it into a new package a percentage of every bar sold is going to go into primary schools and high schools, local high schools for art supplies and school supplies.”


Ambergris Caye is a prime tourist destination in Belize. The Belize Chocolate Company has created a delectable experience for visitors and locals alike. Jo and Chris Beaumont have also created a space at their shop for chocolate making classes.


Chris Beaumont

“The class which we do twice or three times a week really takes people through that whole process. We have an initial video about the Maya people and their history. We talked about how it came from this pod, this fruit grown in the jungle in Central and South America and then we talk and smell and taste our way through the whole process. The most fulfilling thing really is to be able to produce something Belizean that we know is fantastic. When people come in, even Belizeans, as Belizean we don’t realize we have this thing that is so fantastic, this thing that has always been grown here and the sugar is here and the beans is here. So, it is just brilliant that we can do something so fantastic from here for here.”


Jo Beaumont

“My vision is that we would like to export a little bit more. When we first started my vision was to be an award winning company which we are. I think really the vision now is to employ more people, to make the process more smoother and to really to export.”


Chris Beaumont

“Getting the name of Belize as a chocolate industry out a bit more than it has been. Belize grows this fantastic beans but the world does really know that much about Belize and its chocolate.”


Jo Beaumont

“It would be nice to put Belize as a chocolate maker on the map because the beans gets exported a lot and there are a lot of American and British chocolate companies using Belize beans but it is not being made here, so the fact we are making really good Belizean chocolate here is really good.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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