How to Make Mayan Drinking Chocolate

Uncategorized / Thursday, June 26th, 2014
Eladio Pop’s Daughter (l) and Wife (r): Our Drinking Chocolate Guides

One of my favorite parts of my trip to Belize with Taza Chocolate Week was an in-depth tutorial on how to make Mayan drinking chocolate. Drinking chocolate has been an important part of Maya life for centuries, long before the Europeans expropriated chocolate for themselves.

After touring the cacao farm of Eladio Pop, we sat down under his family’s open-air, thatched-roof kitchen to watch his daughter make drinking chocolate.

Made with water, drinking chocolate takes advantage of a few, simple ingredients grown on the family farm. While this recipe is authentic, it’s light on measurements. Everything our guide did was by instinct and eyeball.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

The Mayans use just a few ingredients in their drinking chocolate.

  • Cacao (lightly fermented – 10-20%)
  • theobroma bicolor –  a relative of cacao, theobroma bicolor grows in pods on trees and looks extremely similar to cacao. It has a very mild taste that’s similar to raw peanuts, and it’s difficult to find, even in Belize. The farmers refer to it as “white cacao”, not to be confused with the criollo phenotype of cacao.
  • Allspice
  • Boiling water
  • Black pepper (ONLY for pregnant women about to give birth)

Step 2: Roast the cacao with allspice & theobroma bicolor, turning the beans so they roast evenly

Step 3: Separate the cacao from its skins by lightly crushing

Step 4: Winnow by tossing the nibs and skins and letting the air blow the skins away

Step 5: Grind cacao nibs into a paste on a metate. Use a heat gun to warm the metate if you’re not in a hot, tropical climate.

Me (Lauren) grinding cacao on a metate. Notice Pete licking his fingers.

Step 6: Put a handful of cacao paste into a preserved calabash gourd and add a small amount of boiling water. Mix vigorously with a fork until a paste forms.


Step 7: Put the cacao paste into a pitcher and add about 1 liter of boiling water. Stir vigorously.

Step 8: Pour the drinking chocolate into a calabash gourd and drink as-is or add sugar. Enjoy!