You may have heard of the locally produced Goss and Cotton Tree Chocolate, maybe you've even sampled some from your local grocery store, but have you heard of Che'il Mayan Chocolate?

Che'il chocolate is made in a factory on an organic farm in Maya Center Village Stann Creek. The chocolate is so pure that it's transportation often proves difficult as it might melt during the transportation. But it's taste is an exquisite experience easily sampled with a stop off at the factory. That's what we did last weekend, and Cherisse Halsall has the story:

20 minutes from Hopkins and 30 minutes from either Dangriga or Placencia is the Che'il mayan chocolate factory run by Julio and Eliudora Saqui. The factory's door is marked by a mural of a wild jaguar and a tree laden with very special beans.

The Saqui's are chocolate makers and their chocolate is the real deal because they make it the traditional way, on the mayan grinding stone. Our news team stopped off in Maya center village over the weekend and Julio Saqui told them how he came to be a belizean chocolatier.

Julio Saqui, Co-owner Che'il Mayan Chocolate
"We started venturing into this idea after we realized there was an angle missing to the maya museum cultural tour that we used to operate because I used to operate a maya museum. And based on my experience from the tour guiding that I used to do there is a bridge missing and that bridge finding what tourists should come and do in the area why they should come into this area."

"People want something Belizean, they want something authentic, they want something that is from the source which is actually from the Mayan people."

The Saqui's do more than just run a shop. They offer farm to factory chocolate tours that show visitors the entire chocolate making process.

Julio Saqui, Co-owner Che'il Mayan Chocolate
"So then we started growing cacao beans and then when we have beans like that in our hands, in your farm what are you gonna do with it? How are you gonna make it into something productive because Belize needs more business, needs more industries and this was when we decided ah, let's do something so I started making something and I still didn't know what I was doing three years later.Then an opportunity came for me to go and see how other people were making chocolate. So when I came back, my head was so swollen that I want to do chocolate. It is then when I started my first thing that, before making my first chocolate bar, was actually the production of cacao tea that was the first thing. I did because the outer portion of the beans is extremely healthy even more healthy than the actual beans itself."

But Julio's interest was piqued, and from his first prototype he moved on to the thing that had really captured his imagination while traveling and learning about chocolate abroad.

Julio Saqui
"Then the next thing I did was my second prototype the chocolate bar and the chocolate bar was so good that I just keep going and keep going."

And now he's gone international; Julio travels all over the world showcasing his products at boutique hotels: a village based chocolatier showing the world how to move a community forward with centuries old practices.

Che'il Mayan chocolate will launch an outlet store in San Ignacio next month.

Channel 7