Cacao of the Highest Standard
Ceremonial Cacao is genetically different than 99% of commercially available Cacao. Beyond genetics, the intention of using this Cacao in ritual and ceremony radically changes the way the Cacao is handled, from harvest all the way to your cup.
Ceremonial Cacao is made from heirloom strains of Cacao from Central and South America. Unlike conventional Cacao or cocoa powder, Ceremonial Cacao has not been defatted and is minimally processed under low temperatures to maximize its health benefits.
These Cacao trees are grown and harvested sustainably, employing regenerative agricultural practices. Above all, the people involved in bringing this Cacao to you are properly compensated and tend lovingly to their work.
What makes Cacao Ceremonial Grade?
To be considered ceremonial grade, Cacao must fulfill the following requirements:
It must be raised sustainably, using regenerative practices. If it is raised and processed by the traditional methods, it meets this requirement.
It must be equitable. There must be fair pricing for the farmers and labor justice for everyone involved in the value chain.
It must be addressed with the intention of ceremonial use. At all steps, the values of sacred reciprocity must be upheld.
It must be used with respect. Acknowledgement of the ancient Indigenous lineage of Cacao for ceremony is central to its ethical use in modern context.
Ceremonial grade Cacao is rooted in the land and the stewards who tend to it. The growing conditions of our Cacao are mandated to adhere to regenerative practices within biodynamic agroforestry systems.
Meaning, these Cacao trees must live in a cycle by which they help to rejuvenate the soil year after year; degradative over-cultivation, chemical pesticides, and fertilizers have no place in this system.
Ceremonial cacao is not complete at harvest, however. Afterward, the Cacao is traditionally fermented and roasted.
Fermentation not only mellows the flavor of the Cacao, introducing the characteristic "chocolate" richness we are familiar with, but also allows certain compounds to form that are key to the nutritional profile of the Cacao in your cup. Our Arriba Nacional heirloom beans benefit from a short fermentation process, allowing the full flavor of the Cacao to mature, while also maintaining the integrity of the finer floral and fruit notes.
After drying, the Cacao beans must be roasted. The key to maintaining the highest grade of Cacao is to roast the beans under low temperatures for just enough time to complete the necessary internal reactions. It is an art as well as a science.
The result? Cacao nibs which have all the luscious, complex flavor of the finest chocolate, while maintaining the nutrition and spirit of the earth from which they came.
Cacao vs. Cocoa
Cacao generally refers to the ground seeds of the Cacao fruit. The seed is over 50 percent healthy fat, known as Cacao butter. These healthy fats carry many essential nutrients that support our digestion and the absorption of nutrients from the Cacao. Once the butter is removed from the Cacao, the solid powder left behind is known as “cocoa powder.” This cocoa powder is used by the confectionery industry and in the making of cheap chocolate, usually by infusing it with lower quality vegetable fats.