On a personal healing journey during the pandemic, part of my morning routine has included modulating my caffeine intake. This means exploring alternative drinks, including matcha and cacao. Cacao is especially near and dear to my heart, and like ceremonial matcha, it also has a ceremonial grade. What exactly is ceremonial cacao, how do you prepare it? What do you need to know to get started with a cacao ritual?
What is ceremonial cacao?
Ceremonial cacao is chocolate paste that has been cultivated in a very specific, reverent way (see here for examples, such as raised using regenerative practices, in and equitable manner, etc), and is created into a product that retains its fat, or cacao butter. 100% cacao.
According to Cacao Lab, which is our go-to ceremonial cacao brand, simply because we resonate with their brand and ethos (this post is not sponsored), ceremonial cacao is “heirloom strain cacao.” This site references the Criollo variety, stating that ceremonial cacao makes up less than 5% of the world’s cacao production.
A recent article on this website cautions that ceremonial cacao lacks “any official definition or quality standards.” Therefore, traceability is important when choosing ceremonial cacao; many brands “won’t state where their cacao is sourced from.” If the brand does state the sourcing region, this is likely positive.
How much ceremonial cacao is one serving?
The answer to this question is very nuanced, but our go-to brand, Cacao Lab, states that the average dose recommended is 22-30g. (If you are pregnant, on anti-depressants, medications or certain, treatments, please consult your doctor; this website/Time Cupsoul is not advising you nor providing medical advice.)
How to prepare ceremonial cacao
- Measure your preferred dose of ceremonial cacao (see above), and slice the cacao into small pieces so that it can melt evenly.
- When you’re slicing your cacao, set an intention for your day and your cup of cacao. You can either:
- 1) Place the chocolate dose into a clean saucepan over low-medium heat and slowly add water, careful to not boil the water, but to melt the chocolate using a spoon, and/or;
- 2) Bring some water to 175 degrees Fahrenheit and place your cacao pieces into a blender, along with the heated water, and then blend the cacao until frothy.
- When making cacao in a blender, we like to add one Medjool date for some natural sweetness. Some people add vanilla to their ceremonial cacao, whereas others might add honey or maple syrup.
- You may also prep the cacao on the stove and finish it in the blender, or with a molinillo, a cacao frother, to make it foamy and full of lovely espuma, the Spanish word for froth 🙂
How much caffeine is in ceremonial cacao?
Cacao is a stimulant, but has a “negligible amount” of caffeine, or about the same amount “as a cup of decaf coffee.” Cacao is a stimulant of the cardiovascular system, which is why it’s referred to as the “heart opener” and also “heart medicine.” ❤️
Cacao does not stimulate the nervous system, like coffee and even matcha. Cacao has 0.5–2.7% Theobromine, which according to this website, “theobromine has two to three times lower affinity for A1 and A2A receptors in the brain.” The energy that you receive from cacao is thought to be less stimulating that coffee, but might make the drinker feel warm and energized. Experiment and see how cacao supports you. Cacao has many nutrients, including iron, magnesium, calcium, etc! While many studies focus on raw cacao or cocoa powder and not ceremonial cacao, you can find abundant research on cocoa’s general health benefits.
Cacao is sometimes paired with additional plants and spices, and Cacao Lab has a beautiful collection of bars representing the four elements for you to experiment with. One of our favorites right now is the “WATER” blend.
How to begin a cacao ritual
Most sources that reflect on enjoying ceremonial cacao, list the secret ingredient as “intention.” Prepare your cacao in a slow manner, while respecting the product, and quietly setting a thought, idea, wish, or prayer for the day, to “enhance the experience.”
Some sources propose singing a song or playing music while preparing your cacao, and then writing in your journal upon sipping your cacao, deep breathing, and lighting a candle to create a sacred space.
For some more ideas on how to create a cacao ritual and also cacao ceremony, see the below videos. Most cacao ceremonies are not recorded, in reverence for the sacred space, but you can find some meditations and other videos online to inspire your ritual 🙂
What does ceremonial cacao taste like?
Given that ceremonial cacao is 100% cacao and usually does not have added sugar, ceremonial cacao tastes bitter, unless you add a natural sweetener like dates, maple syrup or honey. With that said, ceremonial cacao can be frothy, comforting, warming, and grounding, especially if you’re trying the Cacao Lab Element Blends.
Why use ceremonial cacao?
If you are interested in exploring a new ritual, exploring alternative drinks to coffee, and are curious about the historical significance of cacao in ancient cultures, purchasing ceremonial cacao and sipping it for your experience may be a good practice to try.
Cacao tends to make us feel more creative and compassionate — perhaps its the magnesium, or feeling connected to the history of cacao in Mesoamerica. Have you tried ceremonial cacao? If yes, what was your experience? Comment below!
Where can you buy ceremonial cacao?
As we said, our preferred brand for all things ceremonial cacao is Cacao Lab. Search the internet for a brand that speaks to you! See how you feel and if you are connected and aligned with cacao. Take care.
Have a beautiful rest of your day.
This post contains just a few affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something, you may help support an insatiable coffee and chocolate habit at no cost to you 🙂 Any written opinions here are by time cupsoul/our own.