We at Cacao Lab have been in love with ceremonial-grade cacao since the first time we sipped it. The buzz, the feeling of connectedness, and the clarity that came with our continued ritual use was powerful. Since then, we have been working to elevate ceremonial-grade cacao within North America (and now Europe!) with our own products, ceremonies, and trainings. It is the raison d'etre of this company and the passion of every one of us who works here.
Recently, we have taken on a new challenge: chocolate. While some might believe whole cacao and chocolate products are separate worlds, we don’t think so. The spirit in which we bring our cacao to your cup—direct trade, sustainable, made with respect for all of our partners, and crafted with the highest care and intention—also permeates our chocolate. And while we love a heart-opening cup of cacao, we also enjoy a sweet treat now and again…okay, okay, every day.
It’s been a long road to get here. There has been much conversation within our team about whether producing chocolate would undermine the core mission of Cacao Lab: bring ceremonial cacao to as many people as possible while still supporting the indigenous communities and farms that we work with. Ultimately, the choice became clear when we broke down the premise—we will always source the finest cacao we can find from independent family farms, and crafting chocolate does not keep ceremonial cacao from the masses, it promotes their understanding of it.
In our Kingston, NY, shop, we are very often tasked with explaining the concept of ceremonial-grade cacao to customers who venture in from the street. We love this part of the work because we enjoy getting people excited about cacao as a mode of healing, not just a sugary indulgence. However, we have found that the best way to get people excited about it is to give them samples. And we’ve found the most success by giving them something they’re used to, then helping them understand the intention that went into that sample and the story of where the ingredients came from. This is where chocolate comes in. Chocolate is a gateway for people unfamiliar with ceremonial-grade cacao to truly taste the difference, while piquing their interest about our full line of 100% cacao products. In this way, we understood: a powerful way to spread the word about ceremonial cacao is through something people are already familiar with: chocolate!
In this spirit, we have developed the bars we have been serving in our Kingston shop into a full line for our customers all over the map. We have taken great care to make these bars with the same intention, environmental and social stewardship, and high quality as all of our ceremonial-grade cacao products. All the bars are vegan, gluten-free, and made from the same cacao as our other products. Since this is chocolate, they do require sugar, but rather than go with sugar alternatives which are actually pretty environmentally-unfriendly, we have sourced pure, dark panela sugar directly from a single farmer in Ecuador, Umberto Reyes.
We have two lines, as of now: classic chocolate bars and our own Botanical Infusions bars. The classic chocolate preparations come in vegan milk, 70% cacao, and 92% cacao versions, all using our ceremonial-grade cacao, but crafted to be incredibly smooth and balanced. These are perfect to take on the go to get your ceremonial-grade cacao fix anywhere at any time.
The Botanical Infusions bars are something we’re quite excited about because we haven’t seen a product quite like it in the market. Starting out, as we did with our Element Blends series, we considered the mood or occasion for which each bar would be a good match, then we set about creating functional food combinations to support that mood. Then we combined those ingredients with a rich cashew-cacao butter base and a touch of sweetness to make treats that are both delicious and healing.
In the end, we designed four recipes:
- Cardamom-Rose — This bar pairs fragrant, ground rose petals with herbaceous green cardamom. It’s an elegant flavor combination that has become a favorite amongst our team. We see this bar as meant for a moment of love, whether with yourself or another, and not just because of its pink color! The delicate flavor and indulgent texture really do remind us of the finer things in life…and there is no finer thing than love!
- Golden Milk — A favorite of yogis and health enthusiasts world-wide, golden milk has sat alongside cacao as one of our favorite beverages for many years. In our version, we pair turmeric and black pepper with ginger, which is not always used in all preparations. We find this recipe gives the bar a great balance between the spiciness of ginger and the earthiness of the turmeric. Packed with anti-inflammatory goodness, this bar is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth while also getting in your antioxidants!
- Moon Milk — Another ayurveda-inspired recipe, this bar pairs the soothing trio of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger with stress-relieving adaptogen ashwagandha. If a chocolate bar could give you a hug, this one would. Perfect for that moment when you get home from a busy day and get into your jammies!
- Matcha — Inspired by Cacao Lab co-founder Federico’s love of matcha, we’ve found the finest ceremonial-grade matcha available, sourced direct from Japan by our friends at Matchaful, and created a seriously delicious bar. Creamy and perfectly balanced between matcha kick and satisfying sweetness, this bar is the perfect mid-day snack to keep you buzzing.
We love these bars and we’re happy to see the wider public find their way into ceremonial-grade cacao through them. While we believe it’s always a good time for a cup of cacao, we also can’t deny that a treat that blends sweet and functional definitely has its moments, as well. Try them today and email us at email@example.com to tell us what you think!