Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate and, as one of the country’s culinary gifts to the world, you can bet there are some excellent, hand-crafted examples out there of what real chocolate should be like. We stopped into Mexico City’s Central Cacao, a delightful shop with delicious chocolate, and checked out some names in the chocolate trade you should have on your radar.
Kakaw’s factory is in the cool, dry climate of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, but they source their beans directly from producers in the warmer, more humid regions of Tabasco and Guatemala. They use artisan methods to ferment, dry and toast their cacao, and pay their producers a higher price through direct purchase, instead of using a distributor. They sell chocolate bars with various additions, like amaranth or peanuts, as well as the traditional chocolate tab used to make Mexican hot chocolate with water.
Beautiful, small, lipstick-shaped bonbons and colorful chocolate in many shapes and sizes might give the impression that Que Bo! is whimsical about its chocolate, but this is one serious Mexican chocolate brand. They have been named one of the best chocolate brands in the world several years running by the French chocolate guide Le Guide de Croqueurs de Chocolat, and have some of the most classically Mexican flavors, like pan de muerto, café de olla, mole sauce, and more.
Que Bo!, Isabel la Catolica 30 local 15-16, Centro Histórico, Mexico City, Mexico, +52 01 55 5518 7672
La Broma de Teo (Teo’s Joke) started as a small project among friends making artisanal chocolate from their kitchens. They work with organic beans and use artisan processes to make all types of chocolate, with combinations including almonds, amarenth, macademia nuts, mandarin, agave honey, mezcal and more. They sell their products in various parts of the republic, and have a chocolate-tasting bar in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
An association of agricultural producers, the Yé-la project started with communal lands in the region of Chinantla, Oaxaca that were designated a conservation area. Chocolate growers and producers joined together to protect this important jungle product. They produce chocolate using a white cocoa bean called pataxtle, and produce bars and other chocolate products with a distinctly cream-colored shine.
A do-everything operation based out of Chiapas, Frucao cares for every detail of its chocolate-making process, from planting the seeds to end-processing the chocolate bars, often mixed with dried fruits like oranges and cranberries. They also grow vanilla and cinnamon on their land in Southern Mexico.
You will find Ki’ Xocolatl products at high-end shops throughout the country. They grow their own beans on the Yucatán Peninsula and their products are 100% Criollo cacao, 100% organic and combine traditional, indigenous techniques with Belgian ones. Under the direction of chocolatier Mathieu Brees, they are an award-winning Mexican chocolate brand you need to try.
A chocolate bar and restaurant, La Rifa is famous for the quality of its chocolate drinks. You can find them at their main location in Coyoacán and also at Central Cacao in Colonia Roma. Run by young cook Daniel Reza Barrientos, La Rifa sources its beans from Cumuapa, Cunduacán in Tabasco, and works closely with the family that produces them. Try their chocolate, hot or cold, and you’ll see what Mexican chocolate is all about.
La Rifa, Calle Ignacio Allende 45, Del Carmen, Coyoacan, Mexico City, Mexico, +52 01 55 9155 7684
La Leyenda is a support network for producers of small-batch coffee, cacao, and amaranth, based in Mexico City. They focus their promotion on the specific origin of each product and what environmental factors make it unique. They offer tastings and workshops throughout the city, and you can buy their products online through their Facebook page.