Cacao - the Drink of the Gods

Cacao’s importance in Guatemala can be traced back to the time of the Maya, when it was referred to as sacred food, most notably the “food of the gods.”

During that time, chocolate was mainly consumed in drink form. The cacao beans were ground to a fine powder and mixed with cornmeal and chiles to create a thick, spicy, bitter, chocolate drink consumed for its health benefits. Before the Spanish arrived, cacao provided the only source of caffeine.


Cacao proved to be a valuable socioeconomic commodity, such that Mayan communities managed cacao plantations which awarded these cities a privileged status from the cacao trade.

Cacao also played an important role in marriage, ceremonies, and was used as offerings during funeral rites. The prestige of cacao even awarded the bean to be used as a form of currency among Maya cities.


After the conquest by the Spanish, when chocolate was exported to Europe, it became a drink exclusively consumed by the royal court and not available to the general population

Today, Guatemala produces approximately 10.5 tons of chocolate, with over 9,000 cacao farms.

M is for Maize

Native to Mesoamerica, corn was first found in Guatemala around 3,000 BC. The crop was cultivated alongside squash and bean crops in the Peten region of Guatemala.

With 25 recognized varieties of corn found around the world, Guatemala has farmed 13 varieties, of which white, black, and yellow corn being the most widely consumed.

More than just food, corn was revered among the Mayans as a sacred diety. Within mayan culture, corn is consumed in 4 ways: the corn tortilla, the tamal, atole (a warm corn drink) and pozole (a soup). There is evidence to suggest that these 4 meals were prepared in ancient times, due to the excavation of cooking tools like the comal and grinding stone.

To this day the vast majority of corn grown in Guatemala is used to make masa (dough) for tortillas and tamales.


A Guatemalan tortilla is entirely different than its Mexican brother. Tortillas in Guatemala are smoky tasting and thick while still being fluffy.

So next time you are enjoying a Guatemalan tortilla, give thanks to the industrious Maya who created such a tasty staple.