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. The 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.
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 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.
What is a Cacao Ceremony?
Cacao ceremonies are cultural rituals most famously practiced by Mayan communities. They have recently grown in popularity in the West and have evolved in the process. Modern Cacao ceremonies are not religious but can feel spiritual, much like a yoga or breathwork class.
Because the cultures who have cultivated Cacao have varying methods, facilitators may lead Cacao ceremonies differently. However, Cacao ceremonies in general maintain some commonalities:
A gathering of community members (all newcomers welcome) in a safe space
A blessing, setting of an intention, or collective “dropping in”
Drinking Cacao together during group discussion or journaling
A meditation guided by the facilitator with words or sound
A post-meditation check-in
Why Attend a Cacao Ceremony?
Cacao ceremonies are supportive experiences that build community.
Some of the added benefits can include:
mental and emotional clarity
a connection to your inner child
moving through emotional blockages
self-love and self-care
deeper self-connection with an elevated mood
How Can I Benefit from a Cacao Practice Without a Ceremony?
Cacao ceremonies are wonderful, but they are not for everyone. Remember that Cacao ceremonies are a cultural practice that may not resonate with you.
You can still integrate Cacao into your regular life. Try drinking it before meditation, or have a cup at the start of your day as a coffee alternative. A regular Cacao ritual just means you consume Cacao with consistency in a way that is meaningful to you. You can drink it alone, or in communion with someone special.
You can also use it in cooking, adding it to smoothies or making your own chocolate at home. The possibilities are endless. Get creative or head over to our recipe page for some quick and easy Cacao recipes.