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COBAN, Guatemala—Pablo Moreno’s passion for cardamom began in his childhood, when his parents grew it near their home. As he learned more about the spice’s unique flavor and health benefits, he began to ask himself, Why are we exporting all our cardamom? Why don’t we use it? 

Guatemala exports more cardamom than any other country in the world, but it is a virtual unknown in the national cuisine.

“Cardamom was brought as a seed 100 years ago from India,” Moreno said. “The curious thing is, 100 years have passed, and still no one knows how to use cardamom in Guatemala.”

Moreno’s passion for cardamom and its place in Guatemala has led to a lifelong role as an evangelist for the spice—at one point, he was an adviser on cardamom for Guatemala’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Cardamom seeds displayed at Kardamomuss Restaurant in Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatamala.
Cardamom seeds displayed at Kardamomuss Restaurant in Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatamala.


Currently, Moreno is a volunteer adviser for a Heifer International Guatemala project, which is helping cardamom farmers earn higher prices. Moreno is providing Heifer Guatemala staff with valuable information on improving the genetic quality of the plant through breeding as well as insights into the domestic and international markets. He is also trying to find new avenues for the spice by experimenting with ways to incorporate cardamom into products like toothpaste and air fresheners.

Other, much more edible tests are carried out at Moreno’s restaurant, Kardamomuss. You can probably guess the restaurant’s theme.

“The cardamom tea is my favorite (at the restaurant),” Moreno said. “Also pancakes with cardamom. Eggs with cardamom. Well, everything is with cardamom. That’s the idea.”

The goal of Kardamomuss is to introduce Guatemalans to the distinct flavor of cardamom. In addition to a menu full of expertly prepared cardamom dishes, the restaurant’s store sells a number of delicious cardamom-infused products, like cookies and marmalade.

Some day, Moreno would like to see Guatemalans consume at least 5 percent of the country’s cardamom production.

Exterior of Kardamomuss Restaurant in Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatamala.
Exterior of Kardamomuss Restaurant in Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatamala.


“We’re trying to expose people to cardamom as a tribute to small cardamom producers in this region and the country, to let people know what they are doing,” Moreno said.

If you’re ever in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala, make sure to grab a fantastic meal at Kardamomuss. You can find it at:

3ra Calle 5-34, Zona 2
Contiguo a Casa Dieseldorff
Coban, Alta Verapaz
Tel: (502) 7952-3792
Email: kardamomussfusioncoban@gmail.com

Author

Jason Woods

Jason Woods is from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and has worked for the Americas Area Program of Heifer International since 2010. He has a master’s in cultural geography and a bachelor’s in news-editorial journalism. His passion for Heifer’s work started as a teenager, when he spent a weekend at Heifer Ranch’s Global Village in Perryville, Arkansas.