A farming village so remote, it’s accessible only by footbridge

The remote Guatemalan village of San Juan Chivite is perched on the side of a mountain, reachable only by foot. Part of the journey requires crossing a long, narrow wooden and steel cable footbridge across which all harvested cacao is carried by hand.

At the start of the Guatemalan civil war the village was part of a coffee farm, but when coffee prices declined the owner sold the farm and the land ended up in the hands of 64 indigenous Maya families who had been displaced by the war. They began by growing both coffee and cacao but switched entirely to cacao in 2002.

There are now 125 families living in San Juan Chivite, all of whom are descendants of the original 64 families.

Until recently they sold their cacao locally, at low prices, but are now working with Cacao Verapaz, which has provided them with technical assistance to improve their fermentation and drying techniques.

A new fermentation and drying facility meets the needs of the villagers.

When we first visited the village in 2015 the villagers told us one of their most pressing needs was to replace their old and inadequate fermentation and drying area with a new facility that would allow them to improve their post harvest capabilities. We were impressed with the villagers’ commitment to producing high quality cacao and Goodnow Farms agreed to fund the construction of a new fermentation and drying area. The villagers built the new facility themselves, with technical advice from Cacao Verapaz, and began using it for the 2016 harvest.

Flavor profile: The chocolate made from this bean has a delightfully bright fruit flavor, with light acidity and a mellow, dark fruit finish.

Learn More About Our Other Chocolate

View from a road in the Alta Verapaz region, on the way to the village of San Juan Chivite. The ideal altitude for cacao trees is (for now) between 300 and 800 feet above sea level.
Access to San Juan Chivite is by hiking a steep path down the mountain, crossing a footbridge, and then back up the other side.
Villagers carry 150 pound sacks of dry cacao beans down the hillside, across this bridge, and then up a steep trail to the road.
The village of San Juan Chivite, as seen from the path.
The new drying facility, construction of which was made possible by Goodnow Farms. For more information on our partnership with the San Juan Chivite villagers check out our “Giving Back” section.
Cacao pods ripening on one of the many trees surrounding the village.
Some of the members of Asochivite sporting Goodnow Farms hats!
Don Marcos and his family hosted Monica during her overnight stay in the village.
Monica with the some of the villagers in Don Marcos’ home.
Making dinner
Monica mixes dough for tortillas.
The delicious finished product!
An alternate form of transportation... for those brave enough!
Fermented and dried cacao beans, ready for shipment.