Chocotenango: A Passionate Journey of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making & Giving Back

Deriving its suffix from the Mayan word “tenango” which means “the place of”, Chocotenango, or “the place of chocolate”, is a labor of love combined with a passion for good food. It has been nearly twenty years since co-owner and chocolatier Abderrahmane ‘Ismael’ Neggaz crafted his delectable creations, while his wife and partner Meira dedicates her time to getting them out into the world.

While Ismael grew up in Algeria and Meira just outside of Boston, the two met in London, while working at a pioneering vegetarian restaurant called Cranks. They have been combining their love of food and travel ever since.

Ismael started Chocotenango in 2005 while living in Antigua, Guatemala, where Meira had taken a job working in public health. A professionally trained chef and pastry chef, he noticed that while Guatemala was touted as the birthplace of cacao, there were few chocolate makers in the country.

Chocotenango was born and quickly became a go-to destination for Guatemalans and visitors alike. Currently based in Washington, D.C., Chocotenango continues to combine creativity, passion, and the best ingredients to make internationally recognized bean-to-bar chocolate.

Chocotenango sources its organic cacao beans from cooperatives that work with small family farms in Latin America. As a micro-batch chocolate maker, its chocolate production is mostly done by hand – from sorting the beans and crafting the bonbons and bars to packaging. Chocotenango’s set up includes a conventional oven for roasting, a winnower, a 70 pound grinder and a 50 pound tempering machine.

With its birthplace in Central America, Chocotenango gives back by donating a portion from each sale to Ecologic Development Fund, a nonprofit organization that advances conservation of critical natural resources in rural Latin America through strengthening community participation in environmental stewardship and promoting sustainable livelihoods.

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