Botanical Name: Theobroma cacao (pronounce kah-kow) – cultivar Criollo
Better than FairTrade: Root Capital seeks to improve the lives of rural farmers by connecting them with the formal economy. Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, or grains from thousands of smallholder farmers. They connect members to markets and help improve their farming practices. With growth, these businesses become engines of impact that can raise incomes and create jobs, empower women and young people, sustain peace, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.
Production: 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. When you taste an unroasted cacao bean or any other of our low temperature processed 100% Arriba Criollo cacao products (nibs, paste, butter, and powder), you will notice a characteristic fermented aroma and flavor, assuring you the presence of optimal levels of heat sensitive healthful nutrients.
Qualities: The bean is the least processed cacao product available on the market. 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. No surprise the Incas considered cacao to 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 flavor 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”.
Common Use: The whole cacao bean can be eaten as is, or crushed to loosen and remove the thin peel. The peel can be collected to use for a healthy tea. The bean can be enjoyed either whole or crushed into pieces (nibs) and added to smoothies, granolas, desserts, raw food bars, or any dish that calls for a bit of crunch and the delicious flavor of chocolate.
A delightful raw chocolate sauce can be made by grinding the whole beans or nibs into a powder in a spice mill, coffee grinder, or food processor and combining them with cacao butter or coconut oil. Try adding natural sweeteners, seeds, nut butters, spices, and extracts, or a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to create amazing raw or baked desserts.
Storage: Keep tightly sealed in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
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.