- What is Cacao?
- How is your cacao prepared?
- What’s the difference between the nibs and the bar?
- What do you mean by Ceremonial Cacao?
- What’s the difference between your cacao and other good cacao or chocolate?
- Are there any contra-indications?
- Where does the cacao come from?
- Is it organic or fair trade?
- How long does shipping take?
- How should I store the cacao?
- What is your return policy?
- Is your cacao raw?
- How long do the effects of a ceremonial drink last?
- How much should I eat a day?
- How can I use your cacao in a ceremonial way?
What is Cacao? Cacao is what chocolate is made from. It is the seed of a tropical fruit known as Theobroma Cacao. Chocolate is made by combining certain portions of cocoa powder (the de-fatted cacao) and cacao butter (the fat from the bean) along with other ingredients to get the consistency and taste we know as chocolate.
How is your cacao prepared? Our cacao is prepared the way it has been for thousands of years. The fruit is harvested when ripe from the cacao tree and then the wet seeds are brought to a local cooperative association where experts oversee the fermentation and sun-drying process. This essential step in the process is what alkalizes the beans and activates the beneficial compounds within. This enzymatic transformation continues as the beans are sun-dried. From there, they are precision roasted which finishes the flavor, kills the bacteria that accumulate during fermentation and allows the husk to be peeled away. Once the husk is removed, we have the pure cacao nibs we sell. To make the bar, the nibs are finely ground, tempered and molded.
What’s the difference between the nibs and the bar? The nibs and bar are both pure cacao in different forms. The bar is simply the nibs ground up. It comes out warm enough (just above body temperature) to be soft, and is weighed out and placed in a mold, to harden as it cools. This pure cacao is easily shaved with a knife and ‘dissolved’ in hot water for use. The ground cacao has been through a tempering process so that the cacao butter is in a stable form. We use the nibs for snacking and the bar for ceremonial events and for other tasty preparations.
What do you mean by ceremonial cacao? Ceremonial cacao is the term we use to differentiate cacao that has a higher quantity of the beneficial compounds that effect health and allow it to be used in a ceremonial setting. In this sense, not all cacao is made equal and there is a large variance in quality and potency of cacao. Our cacao is sourced with the amount of compounds as a primary goal. We refer to cacao in relation to ceremony because it's great to use for doing inner work of all kinds: therapy, meditation, yoga, chanting, dancing, etc. It is also great for use in creative pursuits such as writing and making art. We often say that our cacao is consciousness-altering or psycho-active because of its expansive, heart-centered effect on consciousness.
What’s the difference between your cacao and other good cacao or chocolate?There is a significant difference between commercially available Cacao (and the chocolate made from it) and what we sell and use at here at Heartblood Cacao. This has to do with the vast differences in variety, selection, fermentation, roasting, and processing which affect the amount of the beneficial compounds in cacao.
At Heartblood we offer the finest Guatemalan cacao that has been cultivated by thousands of small farmers for over 3,000 years. The diverse conditions and micro climates found in different regions of Guatemala have created hundreds of distinctly different flavor profiles. Just like wine, many regions produce different results from season to season depending on the variety and climate.
Our source in Guatemala spends the entire year roasting and testing cacao from many different regions and single source farms. He expertly tests various roasting temperatures, times, and grinds of the best and strongest crops of the season and sends us the top results to sample. We then choose the finest of the year’s best cacao as well as the roast, resulting in the best of the best.
This ensures that our cacao has significantly more of the compounds that are necessary
to get the optimum possible health benefits and consciousness altering effects found in this sacred food.
In contrast, some other dealers buy inexpensive cacao from local impoverished private sources and simply resell it.
So while the buzz about chocolate being good for your health is right on, many companies aren’t using the varieties and processing methods that ensure the high amount of beneficial compounds chocolate is known for. Just because it says organic, fair-trade or ‘85% Cacao’ has nothing to do with how much and what proportion of beneficial compounds are present. Not all chocolates are made equal!
Are there any contra-indications? We think of our cacao as a plant medicine. Like any potent medicine, it is important to be mindful in its use. In most cases, there are no concerns to be aware of. The pieces listed below are mainly a concern in higher doses, like when we use the cacao ceremonially. In these cases, the combination of potent cacao and a higher amount warrants some additional mindfulness. First, if you are working with it ceremonially, we recommend that you start off with about half the full dose. A full dose, the maximum we use, is 2 oz, so that means starting off with 1oz. See how it feels and wait at least 30 minutes before consuming more. Cacao is a strong bitter and power detoxifier as it helps cleanse the liver. Because of this, in higher doses people might experience detox symptoms such as headache or nausea. In this case, take it as a blessing and drink plenty of water as your body lets go of whatever it didn’t like. This will likely be accentuated for people on a raw diet or who are fasting. Go with lower doses in this case. Many anti-depressants are contra-indicated with the tryptophan and MAO inhibitors in this cacao, so we recommend checking your meds first. Again, this is because our cacao is more potent to begin with and often taken in higher doses. Chocolate doesn’t have enough strength to cause these effects. Worst case scenario is headache and nausea, but avoid the hassle and do research first. Serious heart conditions. The theobromine in cacao increases heart rate significantly and is a vasodilator, lowering blood pressure. If you have such a condition, go lighter on amounts. Pregnancy & breastfeeding. Like coffee or tea, it is important to reduce intake of stimulating foods. The theobromine in cacao, which is very similar to caffeine, has a stimulating effect. Thus we recommend using lower dosages (ex. a maximum of 1oz in a ceremonial drink). Real chocolate and our cacao can be fatal to dogs (and possibly horses and parrots) so be sure to keep it away from pets. If any symptoms do present, drink lots of water, get some rest and it will pass.
Where does the cacao come from? Our Cacao is harvested, fermented, and dried in various regions of Guatemala. The cacao itself grows on small holder farms who work with local cooperatives to sell their cacao.
Is it organic or fair trade? Our operation is too small and direct to necessitate having outside agencies come in to provide certifications. The farmers are paid higher than international prices for their cacao and the workers all along the supply chain receive fair, living wages for their work. The artisanal chocolatier we work with also supports the local community through profit-sharing initiatives. There are no chemical pesticides or fertilizers used in the growing or preparing of the cacao. When grown in the proper conditions and environment, cacao thrives quite well without the need for chemical intervention.
How long does shipping take? Shipments are sent out within 1-3 business days, and then take another 1-3 days to arrive. We currently ship via USPS and you will receive a confirmation email when the cacao ships.
How should I store the cacao? We recommend storing your cacao in an air-tight container in a location that doesn't get direct exposure to heat/sun-light. Cacao has a tendency to absorb other flavors, so it helps to keep it in something like tupperware or a glass jar. It stores longest at a consistent ambient room temperature.
What is your return policy? We offer a 100% guarantee on our products. If you are not fully satisfied we will refund your money. We’re confident in our cacao and want you to feel the same. If our product does not meet your expectations, simply send us an email and we’ll make it right by either refunding you the purchase price (minus shipping) or replacing it. If you have ordered multiple items, we ask that you return the unopened items. In that case, we will refund you for all the returned items plus one, so please don't open additional bar's beyond the first if you want a full refund.
Is your cacao raw? No. Our cacao is prepared the way people have been for centuries, including the Mayans and Aztecs. This involves roasting. The purpose of this is three-fold. Most importantly, it kills off any bacteria that might grow during the required fermentation period. Secondly, it allows the beans to be peeled so that the seed husk is removed. Lastly, roasting finishes off the flavor, giving it what we know of as the chocolate flavor. The more recent trend of consuming raw cacao is either unfermented (in which case many of the beneficial compounds are missing) or fermented but not roasted and thus has the potential of including bacteria. Additionally, in recent years there have been cases where cacao was labeled raw when in fact it was not, simply because people were willing to pay more for it. We prefer to stick with what people have done for hundreds of years.
How long do the effects of a ceremonial drink last? 3-5 hours with a full dose, depending on sensitivity and where you put your focus. It is helpful for assimilation to eat lightly prior to consuming cacao and also to eat a meal afterwards to help with grounding.
How much should I eat a day? The best reference point we have for this at the moment is from studies of the Kuna people, indigenous to Panama. These studies are what kicked off the modern buzz around chocolate. The Kuna consume, on average, 1 ounce per day of cacao. They do this in liquid form, drinking 5-6 glasses of watery cacao drink per day. The Kuna are almost completely lacking modern health complications such as heart disease (very low incidence of heart attacks), bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. The studies linked this to their consumption of cacao. That said, daily consumption will vary person to person and depending on personal preference. Try it out and see what feels good in your body.
How can I use your cacao in a ceremonial way? Check out this article here