Ceremonial cacao is my favorite daily ritual that helps me nourish both my physical and energetic body.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cacao, cacao benefits, cacao ceremony and how to make ceremonial cacao.
- HOW I GOT INTO CACAO IN BALI
- PODCASTS ABOUT CEREMONIAL CACAO AND CACAO CEREMONY
- HOW TO MAKE DRINKING CEREMONIAL CACAO
- HOW TO MAKE CACAO FOR CEREMONY
- WHERE TO BUY CEREMONIAL CACAO
- WHAT IS CACAO CEREMONY?
- WHAT DOES A CACAO CEREMONY INVOLVE?
- HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN CACAO CEREMONY
- WHY DO YOU CRAVE CHOCOLATE?
- CACAO ON A METAPHYSICAL LEVEL
- SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF CACAO
- CACAO AND CREATIVITY
- THE PLANT MEDICINE SPIRIT OF CACAO
- HOW DOES CACAO GROW?
- WHAT IS RAW CACAO AND WHAT IS CACAO BUTTER?
- WHAT IS CACAO PASTE AND WHAT IS CEREMONIAL CACAO?
- CACAO VS COCOA
- WHAT IS RAW CACAO
- WHAT ARE CACAO NIBS
- CACAO NUTRITION
- CACAO HEALTH BENEFITS
- IS THERE CAFFEINE IN CACAO?
HOW I GOT INTO CACAO CEREMONY
The first time I experienced cacao ceremony at the Yoga Barn in Bali – it made me feel so free and blissful in my body, that I wondered if there was anything else added to the cacao potion that contributed to what felt like an altered state. When I found out that there wasn’t… I knew that there would be a lot more cacao in my life.
When sourced thoughtfully, prepared ceremonially and enjoyed with intention, cacao is a potent energetic medicine that exists on a different plane than your regular chocolate bar (disclaimer: growing up, my favorite form of chocolate was Bounty).
As the ancient traditions of ceremonial cacao and cacao ceremony are becoming more popular in the urban jungle, more questions about cacao are coming up – I get them every day over on @breakfastcriminals.
I’ll share my research that includes my personal experience with ceremonial cacao as well as conversations with cacao producers and ceremonialists.
I’ll also share the best ceremonial cacao to buy online, and ceremonial cacao recipes.
Before we dive into it… If you are called to experience the magic of cacao for yourself and learn everything you need to create your own cacao ritual, join the Cacao Portal Course.
HERE’S MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION:
1. Woke & Wired podcast about cacao ceremony and Maya cosmo-vision with Florencia Fridman, co-founder of my go-to ceremonial cacao brand Cacao Laboratory (use code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS on cacaolaboratory.com for 15% off).
2. Woke & Wired podcast about cacao ceremony and frequency healing with Erin Eber:
3. How cacao ceremony changed my life:
HOW TO MAKE DRINKING CEREMONIAL CACAO
Can you make ceremonial cacao from powder? Not really. You can make a delicious chocolate drink, but to preserve the integrity and wholeness of the experience, you should use cacao paste (which is a whole food that contains cacao butter before it’s separated from the powder).
HOW TO MAKE CACAO FOR CEREMONY
Traditionally, ceremonial cacao is made by hand with a wooden device called molinillo hot chocolate frother. I’ve experienced it made this way – it’s a beautiful, meditative process.
For convenience, I use this blender for my daily cup of ceremonial cacao.
Don’t have a blender or prefer to make your cacao the slow way? Mix cacao with water in a small pot, and keep stirring/whisking on low heat, making sure it never boils (to not burn the cacao). Note – the cacao tends to settle on the bottom, so whisk it well. Turn off the stove when all cacao chunks are melted and the consistency is creamy.
Here’s what you’ll need to make one cup of delicious ceremonial cacao:
- 4 TBSP ceremonial cacao, chopped into small pieces. I recommend a dedicated cutting board that you use just for cacao. If you’re using ceremonial cacao disks – no need to chop!
- 1 cup hot water (or you can use herbal teas and infusions instead of plain water. I love using rose tea as my base or Rasa adaptogenic blend for extra energy.)
- An optional sweetener: I usually use a date, 1 teaspoon of monkfruit, or raw honey. Traditional sweetener is panela (rapadura unrefined sugar).
- Spices – a pinch of each: Himalayan salt, cayenne pepper or chili pepper, cinnamon.
The ingredients above are just a canvas, from there you can add your favorite superfoods, adaptogens, and even drink it with nut milk if you’re looking for a latte-like drink. I’ve also loved adding a few raw cashews (preferably soaked) into the blend to make my cup of ceremonial cacao creamy.
Mix the ingredients with a whisk or in a blender (this certified reconditioned Vitamix is a great deal – it’s my go-to blender).
Ceremonial cacao boosters:
Some of my favorite ingredients to pair with ceremonial cacao are maca, medicinal mushrooms like Cordyceps and lion’s mane, mesquite and spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
More ceremonial cacao recipes: Heart Opening Rose Elixir
WHERE TO BUY CEREMONIAL CACAO
When buying ceremonial cacao, look for sustainably grown and harvested cacao sourced with intention.
Here are some of my favorite ceremonial cacao brands to buy online:
1. Cacao Laboratory (code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS)
Cacao laboratory is a conscious ceremonial cacao brand founded to bridge the gap between the modern culture and the indigenous communities. It’s founded by Florencia Fridman (natural-born healer, self-empowerment artist and cacao ceremony guide) and Eric Federico Fridman (an impact investment advocate).
Most of their cacao is made from top-notch Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador.
I’ve studied cacao ceremony and traveled to Guatemala with Cacao Lab and can attest to intentionality every step of the way. Florencia works closely with the Tzʼutujil in Guatemala to spread the message of cacao medicine around the world. You can get to know Florencia and learn more about cacao in this podcast interview.
CEREMONIAL CACAO PRODUCTS:
- Plain: 1KG ceremonial cacao paste block with nothing added – buy this if you want plain cacao and will add your own spices. The experience is smooth and powerfully grounding. Format: It comes in what looks like an oversized chocolate bar shape, making you feel like you’re Alice in Wonderland. Make sure you chop it before blending.
- Spiced: Elemental cacao options are Water, Fire, Air and Water, with spices and superfoods like cardamom, maca and damiana already added (no sweetener). Format: Chocolate bars that can be easily broken up into squares and places into a blender – no chopping needed.
Where to Buy: 15% off with code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS on cacaolaboratory.com.
Keith’s Cacao could be the most potent cacao I’ve experienced – start with a smaller dose! Keith’s ceremonial cacao blocks come pure with nothing added, making it a powerful way of connecting with pure cacao and a flavor playground to add spices and superfoods you’re drawn to.
Keith’s Cacao is said to be the world’s first “ceremonial” cacao founded by Keith, aka “The chocolate shaman.”
Where to buy: 5% off with code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS on keithscacao.com
Firefly Chocolate is an ethically traded ceremonial cacao brand founded by Jonas – chocolate maker, engineer and nature lover. Jonas travels to cacao farms in Belize, Guatemala, and Tanzania to bring back amazing cacao from hundreds of small family owned permaculture cacao farms. that comes in disks
CEREMONIAL CACAO PRODUCTS:
All Firefly Chocolate comes in disk shape that’s very easy to blend (or eat straight up, which is what I often end up doing). They have both 100% pure ceremonial cacao disks, and ones with added spices.
I have ordered the Ceremonial Cacao Drink Sampler Kit and tried all the flavors, and these are my favorites:
- Tantric Rose Blossom – the only ingredients are ceremonial cacao and rose blend, no sweetener. It’s smooth and warming. Rose and chocolate make a fantastic heart-opening combo!
- Connected Colombia – the only ingredient is 100% ceremonial cacao with nothing added, yet this is one of the smoothest cacao experiences I’ve ever had. I’m obsessed!
Where to Buy: 5% off with code BREAKFASTCRIMINALS on ceremonial-cacao.com.
WHAT IS CACAO CEREMONY?
Cacao ceremony usually involves a communal gathering with a sacred circle, music and of course, ceremonial cacao. While I notice the strongest effects of cacao in a group ceremony, I also have it daily as part of my morning ritual.
Enjoying ceremonial cacao can help you connect with your heart and be a gentle guide through transformational consciousness shifts.
I’ve tried drinking cacao with and without creating a sacred intentional space, and the difference of the effect is mind-boggling.
WHAT DOES A CACAO CEREMONY INVOLVE?
There isn’t a rigid formula, but here are some of the elements a cacao ceremony can involve.
Usually, a cacao ceremony is hosted by one or several people trained in preparing cacao and holding sacred space.
If you’ve been invited to a cacao ceremony and have no idea what’s about to happen, here’s what you can expect. Don’t worry, you’ll be guided through every step of the way!
- Create a sacred space, often with an altar in the middle
- Sit in a circle and open up the circle by going around and saying your name out loud, sharing an intention or a word you’re calling in
- Pour the cacao and pass it around the circle
- Honor and bless the cacao
- Set an intention for the ceremony
- Drink the cacao
- Breathwork, meditation, sound journey, dance, music – from here, it’s up to the person leading the cacao ceremony and whatever tool they prefer to use to amplify and manifest the intentions created by the participants.
- Close the circle – an important part of the ceremony that invites integration of the deep spaces you may have explored during your cacao journey.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN CACAO CEREMONY
While usually a cacao ceremony lasts at least an hour, you can make it more accessible and fit it into your schedule by taking a sacred 15-minute pause out of your day and doing something like this:
- Prepare ceremonial cacao
- Clear the space with sage or palo santo
- Hold the cacao, connect to the feeling of gratitude, and set your intention
- Drink the cacao
- Journal, meditate, listen to sacred songs, dance or have a heart-to-heart conversation with your friend or lover, if you’re doing a ceremony with them.
If you don’t have time for all 5 steps, just do one and set an intention before drinking the cacao by asking yourself, “How do I want to feel? What am I ready to call into my life?”
WHY DO YOU CRAVE CHOCOLATE?
Cacao contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that binds to the THC receptors. It’s also known as the “bliss molecule” (named after “ananda”, the Sanskrit word for “bliss.”) Anandamide is considered an endocannabinoid — a substance produced in the body that binds to cannabinoid receptors.
It’s only so natural that we crave chocolate when we’re feeling stress or imbalance physically and emotionally.
Fun fact: pure chocolate produces a similar endocannabinoid receptor-stimulating effect on your body as CBD oil.
CACAO ON A METAPHYSICAL LEVEL
Used for at least 5,000 thousand years by a number of communities around the world, on a metaphysical level cacao serves as a tool for connecting to the energetic space of your heart, as well as to people around you.
SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF CACAO
I love making a cup of nourishing cacao before my meditation or during group gatherings. It’s a powerful tool to go deeper in your inner work, whether it’s journaling, visualization, or shamanic journeying. In my experience, cacao ceremony can also assist in energetic healing and receiving clarity in the areas of love, purpose, intuitive abilities, career and personal growth.
CACAO AND CREATIVITY
When I have an intentionally prepared cup of cacao at a ceremony, something happens: I feel softer, more present and loving, and my creativity goes through the roof. I find that having a cup of cacao is especially powerful before creative writing, working on projects that ignite your soul, and making art.
THE PLANT MEDICINE SPIRIT OF CACAO
Some traditions (including the indigenous cacao keepers) believe that every plant has a spirit. In the earlier days, humans lived in harmony with the natural world and saw plants as intelligent, alive beings and healers in their own light. On the simplest level, this is why we use supplements, herbs, superfoods and adaptogens – as a way to reconnect with this primal wisdom that’s becoming more and more readily available.
Once you’ve experienced a group cacao ceremony, it’s impossible to think that cacao doesn’t have a spirit. It shows up differently for everyone, but generally, it’s known as a playful, gentle medicine that connects you to your own deep-rooted wisdom within.
Keep reading to dive deeper into all things ceremonial cacao
HOW DOES CACAO GROW?
Cacao beans grow in pods on trees of the Theobroma cacao species in tropical environments, within 15 to 20 degrees latitude from the equator. During harvest, the pods are opened, the seeds are kept, and the empty pods are discarded. The seeds are then fermented, during which the cacao beans lose their purple hue and become mostly brown in color.
According to fairtrade.org.uk, 90% of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms by about 6 million farmers who earn their living from growing and selling cocoa beans.
WHAT IS RAW CACAO AND WHAT IS CACAO BUTTER?
Known as the “food of the gods”, cacao (kə-ˈkau̇) is the seed found in the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, which is native to the Amazon Basin. The bean was first discovered by the Mayans and has remained a staple in many cultures ever since.
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cacao and removes the fat (cacao butter). Rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, cacao can be considered a “superfood.”
WHAT IS CACAO PASTE AND WHAT IS CEREMONIAL CACAO?
Cacao paste is manufactured from a single ingredient – cacao beans. They are fermented, lightly roasted or sundried, then ground down into the ceremonial paste that becomes solid at cooler temperatures.
Nothing is taken out or added during this process, which leaves the ceremonial cacao pure.
Technically speaking, cacao paste and ceremonial cacao are made of the same ingredients. It’s the thoughtfulness and tradition in growing and processing, and the intention in drinking ceremonial cacao that differentiates it from cacao paste.
Unlike other cacao beans, ceremonial cacao is specifically produced from native cacao strains. These strains are found growing on its own in the wild without the help of humans. The compounds found in these seeds are essential for ceremonial use.
CACAO VS COCOA
Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Roasting and processing raw cacao changes the molecular structure of the cacao bean, reducing the enzyme content (bye bye antioxidants and flavanols) and lowering the overall nutritional value by up to 90%.
Regular cocoa is what’s usually used in chocolate you can buy at grocery stores and pharmacies. There’s a lot of confusion around cacao and cocoa. “Cocoa” sometimes refers to the powder used to make hot chocolate that contains added sugar, fat and processed powdered milk. Pay close attention when buying cacao – look at the label to make sure there are no uninvited guests in the ingredient list. If you want a more nutritious, clean choice – raw cacao powder or ceremonial cacao is the way to go!
WHAT IS RAW CACAO
Raw foods are not heated to above 42 degrees, which means that in case of raw cacao, the beans are sun-dried instead of roasting. Raw cacao retains maximum nutritional value and flavor. That said, traditionally ceremonial cacao is always roasted, never raw.
WHAT ARE CACAO NIBS
Cacao nibs are fermented and roasted bits of cacao beans. Cacao nibs add a perfect crunchy addition to smoothie bowls, smoothies, baking and oatmeal. And if you’re into that, they’re also paleo and keto-friendly!
A single cacao bean contains 54% fat (that’s the cacao butter), 31% carbohydrates (mainly fibre with a tiny amount of sugars), 11% protein (including arginine, glutamine and leucine), 3% polyphenols (flavonols and proanthocyanins) and less than 1% trace minerals including magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. [realfoods.co.uk]
CACAO HEALTH BENEFITS
Ever heard of research that proves that chocolate is good for you? It’s talking about either raw, unprocessed cacao or nutrient-rich dark chocolate.
Organic, raw cacao is a superfood containing a variety of unique phytonutrients such as sulfur, magnesium and phenylethylamine. It’s a great source of monounsaturated fat, cholesterol-free saturated fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates and protein.
People in my weekly cacao ceremony group have reported that drinking cacao at least 3 times a week helps them manage ADD, ADHD, and one person even reported that it helped them lower their anti-depressant medication dosage. *Disclaimer: this is not medical advice. Please consult your doctor for further questions.
Cacao is rich in:
- Plant-based iron: 7.3mg per 100g.
- Antioxidants: up to 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries.
- Magnesium: a nutrient that’s important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It can also sharpen your brain while relaxing your body.
- Calcium: more than in cow’s milk.
IS THERE CAFFEINE IN CACAO?
Theobromine is a chemical that has a similar structure to caffeine, but the difference is that instead of being a nervous system stimulant like coffee, theobromine dilates the cardiovascular system that results in opening up the blood vessels and a sense of alertness and relaxation at the same time.
The two stimulants are related but are very different chemicals with different properties, effects and origins. Cacao is a poor source of caffeine, and in fact is a wonderful substitute for your morning latte if you want to reduce your caffeine intake.
However, experience has shown me that having potent ceremonial cacao past 7pm might keep you awake for hours – be aware and start by having ceremonial cacao earlier in the day. It makes a wonderful morning elixir. Keep reading to find out how I prepare my ceremonial cacao.
I would love to see and hear how you use cacao in your life! If you have any questions or comments on this post, please leave them below or connect with @breakfastcriminals on Instagram!
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The post What Is Cacao Ceremony? Cacao Preparation, Rituals, Physical And Metaphysical Benefits first appeared on Breakfast Criminals.