According to CEO, Mark Breene, “when Copalli was created, concern for the community and the environment came long before the rum.”
In 2016, conservation trailblazer Todd Robinson and Belcampo founder and foodie, Anya Fernald came together to bring a bigger vision to eco-resort, Copal Tree Lodge.
They created a sustainable, zero impact rum distillery.
Copalli Rum is a single estate, organic and gluten free rum distilled solely in an all-organic farm in the heart of Southern Belize’s rainforest.
The Copalli team created their rum from the desire to protect the rainforest of Belize, give back to the community, and taste fantastic along the way.
“Copalli Rum is a brand that proves it’s possible to be a clean, craft spirit that tastes phenomenal, has as low a carbon footprint as possible and empowers the local community all at the same time.”
Sustainable Rum Made From Three Ingredients
To start, their rum is made from three simple ingredients — heirloom sugar cane grown on Copal Tree’s certified organic farm, rainwater collected from the canopy of the Belizean rainforest, and yeast.
I must mention, there is a new fourth ingredient: organic cacao nibs, also grown on the organic farm. And it tastes incredible.
The majority of rums add molasses, artificial flavors, colors, and other chemicals into their product. But not Copalli.
The sugar cane is not only harvested by hand, but it’s also juiced within two hours.
Any waste water from the distillery goes through a filtration system, into retention ponds.
“When you smell the sugarcane juice, you can smell all the flowers in the fields,” says Breene. “In the finished rum, you can often taste the wild vanilla that grows near the sugarcane.”
“The Copal Tree Distillery was built to be carbon neutral from day one, so sustainable practices are core to our operations,” says Breene. “While we aren’t fully neutral yet, we are making progress in that direction and will continue to monitor and manage our footprint as our distribution grows; sustainability is a journey, not a finite point.”
As humble as Breene is, Copal Tree Distillery has clearly made profound leaps on their quest to 100% sustainability.
How Copalli Supports The Rainforest
Copalli Rum is the sole rum used in Copal Tree Lodge restaurants and bars. It is located amongst businesses not only serving the community and rainforests, but also preserving the Mayan history dating back to 600 AD when the Mayans used the Rio Grande river for transportation to the sea.
“Our two founders wanted to improve the environment of the rainforest,” says Breene. “But they realized for lasting progress to be achieved, economic development and environmental stewardship had to take place at the same time.”
According to Breene, Copal Tree developed an eco-lodge, a craft chocolate facility and this distillery to create more jobs for the community that could also run in a sustainable fashion. As a result of their sustainable food production and agritourism along with their humanitarian efforts, Travel + Leisure awarded Copal Tree Lodge the ‘World’s Best Award.’
Profits from sales are returned to the community in the form of education grants, infrastructure support (such as providing wifi during COVID), healthcare, and training. “Together with the Copal Tree Lodge,” says Breene, “We are the largest non-Government employer in Southern Belize, and we are a responsible employer.”
“Sustainability isn’t the marketing program du jour for Copalli – it is part of our DNA. While our availability is currently limited to New York, California and Florida, supplemented by internet sales where legal, we hope to make emotional connections to consumers who believe as we do. And then we’ll spread the word, one cocktail at a time.”
Holiday Cocktail – Boozy Hot Cacao
Speaking of cocktails, the holidays are a great time to serve your guests premium rum cocktails that are also good for the planet—and there’s nothing better than a mug of classic hot chocolate. Here’s a recipe for a boozy hot cacao that’s sure to please:
1 oz Copalli Cacao
2 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cacao powder, honey to taste, and vanilla.
Place saucepan over low/medium heat, and bring the milk to a simmer, whisking often until the cacao is blended. Remove from heat and add the rum. Stir and pour into two glasses. Dust with cacao powder. Serve warm.
If you’re feeling fancy (as you should), add a splash of half-and-half or whipped cream just before serving.
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