Our Sources

Our Sources

Soul Lift Cacao is a social enterprise that exclusively sells cacao grown on small family farms in Guatemala.

It's all non-GMO and grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

"Single source" in our model doesn't just mean a single country; it means a single farm or village. The map below shows where each cacao variety we carry is grown.

All the cacao is prepared in small batches by Mayan groups at Lake Atitlán, in the western highlands. People travel there from around the world to take in the powerful energy of what is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in the Western Hemisphere.

Whereas most cacao in the world passes through at least 10 hands from farm to consumer, what you buy from Soul Lift Cacao has passed through only 4 or 5 (e.g., farmer, collective, Soul Lift Cacao, customer).

That means more money stays at the source, with farmers who grow the cacao and collectives who prepare it into ceremonial paste.

Because the cacao is prepared into paste in Guatemala, our model actually sends an average of 1100% the "fair trade" rate per pound back to the source country.

We believe that's a lot more equitable and truly has the power to turn around the exploitation that has happened and continues to happen in the chocolate industry.

Each type of cacao we carry is sourced directly from the group of artisans who make it, through real human relationships that we cultivate. They get a say in what we do, including our labels and packaging.

When buying ceremonial cacao, please make sure that you can trace the sourcing and that the native people who made it have approved for that manner of sale. Unfortunately there are a lot of black market sales and unverifiable products on the Internet today.

Thank you for supporting Soul Lift Cacao's model of traceability and ethical direct trade. Below is the cacao farm map and more info about our specific sourcing partners.


RUK’U’X ULEW (pronounced “Roo-koosh Oo-lay-oo”) - partner since 2018:

Ruk’u’x Ulew women’s collective

Our longest running partner is a women’s collective in San Marcos la Laguna selects the best beans grown at a few native family farms in Alta Verapaz, and roasts the beans over a wood fire.

The women hand-peel the beans in groups, much like the community affair it has been throughout history. They pour intentions into it to be a "soul medicine" for the world.

This collective is owned by Cecilia Mendoza Chiyal, a Mayan woman.

The cacao is sold in our shop under the English translation, Heart of the Earth. You can find both the blocks and pre-ground paste here.

Photo below: Soul Lift Cacao founder Nick Meador with Cecilia, owner of the Ruk'u'x Ulew cacao collective.

LAVALOVE - partner since 2020:

izaias y izabel

Made by husband and wife duo Izaias Mendoza and Izabel Pérez in San Marcos la Laguna, Lavalove cacao is a blend sourced from small farms in one region on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.

Many Mayan women in the village of San Marcos are employed in the production process. Lavalove goes above and beyond to ensure fair payment of workers.

The beans are selected, roasted, and peeled by hand, then ground and poured into blocks. 

Izaias is also a Tata (spiritual leader) who hosts Mayan ceremonies to give people a direct experience of the local traditions.

You can find Lavalove cacao in our shop here.

Photo below: Nick with Izaias at the Lavalove shop in San Marcos la Laguna.

CACAO SOURCE - partner since 2020:

The project sources its cacao from five single-origin farms, making excellent and complex varieties of cacao. We currently sell three of them:
  • Ullulawl (grown in Alta Verapaz, eastern Guatemala)
  • Springs (grown in Suchitepéquez, western Guatemala)
  • Mama Amor (grown in Suchitepéquez)
Cacao Source collaborates with independent farmers who own their land and produce the cacao without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Cacao Source has founded seven Mayan women’s collectives in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, who roast the seeds in small batches, peel each one by hand, and transform them into cacao blocks.

Their core value is to support the local community by providing fair wages and ethical, sustainably grown cacao.

Soul Lift Cacao is the only distributor that gets these varieties roasted over wood fire. Catarina of San Marcos la Laguna (pictured below) leads a collective of women who toast and peel the seeds.
Photo below: Catarina (center) with Nick Meador (L) and Kate Kan (R), Nick's fiancée who has long been an advisor in the business

UTZ K'ASLEMAL (pronounced "ootz kahs-lay-mahl") - partner since 2022

Photo above: Ixquik (far left), her mother Rosalía (far right) and others using sacred tobacco in ceremony (photo by Enjoly Mar)

Utz K'aslemal – which roughly translates to "Good living in a useful existence" – is the trade name of a family from Sololá, just north of Lake Atitlán in the western Highlands of Guatemala.

Led by Ixquik (pronounced "Eesh-keek") Lopez Zavala and her mother Rosalía, the family has given Soul Lift Cacao the great honor of being the sole U.S. distributor of their cacao.

We sell it as La Noche ceremonial cacao (available in blocks and pre-ground bags here). The name refers to the dark, roasty flavor, and an energy that's reminiscent of the night.

The family uses sacred tobacco in their ceremonies for divination and healing. Rosalía is also a respected midwife in their community who has reportedly delivered 3,000 babies.

And Ixquik is a different kind of community leader, helping to organize cacao farmers in the Alta Verapaz and Quiché regions of Guatemala so that they can stand up to the "coyotes." These are mob-like groups who try to pressure the family farms to sell their cacao at an unfairly low price.

By buying La Noche cacao, you're directly supporting this movement to empower family farms!

Photo below: After a ceremony with Utz K'aslemal on our Guatemalan cacao tour in March 2023


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