Botanical Name: Theobroma cacao (pronounce kah-kow) - cultivar Criollo
Country of Origin: Ecuador
Production: The criollo variety of cacao beans is sourced from the native-born heirloom species and is the most difficult variety to grow due to its vulnerability to a variety of environmental threats.
After the ripe pod has been cut from the tree, it is opened, the rind discarded, and the pulp and seeds laid out for several days. During this time the pulp liquefies or “sweats” and fermentation starts, which softens the bitter taste and helps to unlock the full aroma of the cacao bean. This fermentation process is usually followed by roasting, yet our cacao beans remain unroasted - just sun-dried, keeping them raw from start to finish.
For further processed products, the raw bean is gently crushed and its thin skin removed so that only pieces or “nibs” remain. Cacao nibs are then slowly ground into a thick brown liquid called cacao paste (aka cacao mass or liquor) which is made up of cacao butter (55-60%) with fine cocoa particles suspended in it. This raw cacao paste is subsequently pressed until it separates into cacao butter and a cacao “cake” which is then ground to produce cacao powder.
Qualities: The Incas considered cacao to the the “drink of the gods” which gave rise to the scientific name of the cacao tree Theobroma cacao, theo, meaning god, and broma meaning drink. Cacao has been cultivated in Ecuador since the 17th century and was the main product of export up until the 1920s.
The criollo variety is considered worldwide to have the finest floral aroma and flavour profile of all cacao varieties. Some claim that “what the fine arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer criollo bean is to chocolate”. Cacao is believed to contain high amounts of antioxidants such as flavonoids, and many other nutrients and minerals like stearic and oleic fatty acid, anandamide (the bliss chemical), theobromine, manganese, zinc, copper, sulfur, PEA and tryptophan. The list of cacao’s acclaimed health benefits is lengthy and includes anti-inflammatory and heart protective properties, calming hormones, restoration of feelings of well-being, increased energy, fighting chronic fatigue, anti-aging and appetite-suppressing properties, improved kidney and cognitive functions, skin and tooth protection, and more.
Common Use: Cacao powder can be eaten raw as is, or roasted and brewed into tea. It can be added to countless recipes and food preparations, raw, cooked or baked; sweet and savory.
Storage: Best kept at room temperatures around 20C (68F), away from direct sunlight, protected from moisture, and tightly sealed.
Safety: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This product has been packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and other potential allergens.