Many people, including all of us here at Cacao Laboratory, have made ceremonial-grade cacao a part of their morning ritual rather than coffee. While both of these pleasures can give you that boost you need in the morning, cacao has proven to be a much better AM ally, in our experience. Let's explore how.
Coffee contains primarily caffeine, which stimulates the body by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep, so its blockage essentially blocks your “tiredness”. The downside to this is that caffeine is metabolized fast in the body, so the adenosine blockage wears off quite abruptly, resulting in a rush of adenosine reuptake that crashes you out.
Cacao, while it does contain some caffeine (about as much as a small cup of green tea), primarily contains theobromine, which is a cousin molecule of caffeine. Theobromine has a very weak action in the brain, thus not interfering with neurochemical processes much. Instead, it acts as a vasodilator and stimulant on the heart muscle. This is more of a “whole body” energy that works much more gently than caffeine. This action is the physiological basis behind why some people report cacao to be “heart-opening”. Theobromine also has a much longer half-life in the body, meaning it is broken down more slowly. As a result, the come-down from theobromine stimulation is more of a long and gentle curve compared to caffeine’s steep crash. This is also the reason that many people can drink cacao at night and still have no problem sleeping — it does not block the chemicals that actually help regulate your sleep.
Anybody who has had a coffee habit for years know that it can be addicting, and weaning off can be a truly miserable experience. Luckily, both members or our team and members of our community have found that replacing their morning coffee with a morning cacao has helped them cut down and eventually quit their caffeine addiction without many of the side-effects they had experienced in previous attempts. Furthermore, as you're replacing one energy provider for a superior energy provider, it’s not like you’re losing your morning boost all together. What you are losing, however, are the coffee jitters, the crash, the need for many cups throughout the day, the sleep disruption, and the addictive quality. It is said that chocolate (in our case cacao) is addictive, but only because it’s so delicious. There is no evidence that cacao or theobromine are habit-forming, so go ahead and kick coffee with confidence!
To understand the science that separates cacao from coffee, please read our analysis of theobromine vs. caffeine