How The Mayans Made Chocolate

May 2, 2022

The Sacred Elixir: How the Maya Crafted Chocolate

Mayan woman preparing traditional chocolate, Yucatan, Mexico

In today's world, chocolate is synonymous with indulgence, love, and sometimes, comfort food. However, the journey of chocolate began not in European patisseries but in the ancient lands of the Maya, where it was considered a drink of the gods. Before you dive into this article, remember that you can look up today's Mayan calendar date on the homepage of, where you can also find additional resources to expand your knowledge of the Maya world.

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The Birth of Chocolate

The Maya were among the first peoples to cultivate the cacao tree, the source of chocolate. Known as 'kakaw' in their language, the cacao pods were harvested and processed through a series of intricate steps to make a drink that was reserved for rituals, ceremonies, and the elite.

From Pod to Elixir

Cacao in Guatemala

Once the cacao pods were harvested, the seeds were extracted and allowed to ferment for several days. This was crucial for developing the flavor. The fermented seeds were then dried, roasted, and ground into a paste. The Maya mixed this paste with water, along with other ingredients like vanilla, chili peppers, and maize to create a frothy, spicy beverage quite unlike the sweet milk chocolate we know today.

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The Spiritual Connection

The Maya believed that the kakaw had divine origins. The drink was incorporated into various ceremonies, including marriages, where it was believed to be an aphrodisiac. They also offered cacao drinks to their gods in elaborate rituals.

Mayan Chocolate Today

Modern chocolatiers owe a great deal to the ancestral knowledge of the Maya. The basic process of chocolate-making has not changed dramatically, although the addition of sugar and milk has altered its original flavor profile. Yet, the legacy of Mayan chocolate lives on as artisans and manufacturers revisit traditional recipes to offer authentic Mayan chocolate experiences.


The Maya not only gave us a calendar that continues to fascinate scholars and laypeople alike but also left an indelible mark on how we enjoy one of the world's favorite flavors. The journey from cacao pod to chocolate is a testament to their ingenuity and understanding of the natural world.

For those who are intrigued by the mysteries and contributions of the Maya, consider diving deeper into their cosmos with my book, "The Maya Calendar: An Archetypal Structure of Reality," available now.


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"Delve into the ancient art of Mayan chocolate-making. Discover how the Maya turned cacao pods into a sacred drink and how it evolved into today's chocolate."

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