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.