Before the Spanish invasion of Central America, Cacao was more than the processed chocolate we know it to be today, Cacao was Sacred.
What is Ceremonial Grade Cacao?
The difference between 'regular' cacao and ceremonial cacao is a topic we feel very passionate about here at The Cacao Club.
1. What exactly makes Cacao 'Ceremonial'?
2. Is it worth the price?
Because there are currently no regulations or standardisations in place regarding what makes Cacao 'Ceremonial,' we highly recommend doing your research and making your judgement based on the integrity of the company.
Most people are not aware that there is a there is a very real, very dark side of the Cacao Industry.
Cacao grows wildly and abundantly in its homeland, however, it was introduced to West Africa in 1879 which currently accounts for more than 80% of the Worlds Cacao production. Sadly, a vast majority of the commercial chocolate brands on the shelves today are using Cacao beans that have not only been highly processed, but have been grown and harvested by horrendously underpaid workers - often children, living and working in extreme poverty. These workers are often paid as little as $2 a day and work from 6 in the morning into the evening...
We consider Cacao to be a herbal medicine and this means ensuring that we use the same selection criteria when sourcing our Cacao as we do all of our medicinal herbs.
Our non-negotiables are:
- Sustainability - The earth and natural habitat where the plant is grown is treated lovingly and respectfully.
- Organic - No pesticides, herbicides or any other chemicals have come into contact with the plant.
- Fairtrade - The farmers who grow and harvest the plants are fairly paid at a price they deserve, one which allows them to sustain themselves, their families and their communities.
- Minimally processed - Low fermentation and low temperatures are applied without roasting so that the plant maintains its natural purity and quality.
Where do you source your Cacao?
With a name that literally translates to 'Food of the Gods,' the variety of Ceremonial Cacao used in our disks has been used to facilitate ritual and ceremony for millennia. It is our goal to reintegrate this tradition and help our customers to connect to this powerful plant as a MEDICINE and not a junk food.
We are committed to 100% traceability, when it comes to Cacao.
Our single origin Qʼeqchiʼ Cacao Beans are grown deep in the rainforest in Guatemala from the Federation of Cooperatives of Coban, Alta and Baja Verapaz.
The Cacao Trees on these small-scale farms are incredibly special and have a long history of mixing naturally over several decades to produce a unique blend of Criollo and Trinitario material, otherwise know as “Acriollado.”
Natural, unique and most importantly, produced 100% by small-scale farmers from the indigenous people of Mayan Q´eqchi.
Why is your Cacao so expensive?
Every single aspect of our production is intentional & meticulously carried out so as to not leach from our planet or its people, but rather, to give back. We run a heart led business & the last thing we ever wanted to do was to create another ‘product’ for mindless consumption.
The single origin, Acriollado beans used to make our Ceremonial Cacao Discs are grown deep in the rainforest in Guatemala by the indigenous people of Mayan Q´eqchi. These small scale farms are supported by The Federation of Cooperatives of Coban, Alta and Baja Verapaz.
We pay a premium on these very special beans to ensure the sustainable cultivation of Cacao from farm to cup. Not only are Fedecovera one of Guatemala’s leading reforestation organisations, using modern agricultural practices that respect human dignity & biodiversity but they proudly fulfil their mission to provide a way for farmers to improve their living conditions while honouring and protecting their culture and ecosystem.
Cacao plantations in an agroforestry system can help to counter global warming by planting more trees - this is what we are all about!
Once our beans have been stone ground in small batches, we add medicinal grade, organic, herbal remedies in generous doses - this is medicine after all!
The Cacao is then hand poured, hand wrapped & lovingly packed in 100% sustainable, recyclable materials & delivered fresh every single month.
Absolutely nothing about this process is cheap. We pay our suppliers & producers higher than average so that they can continue to be inspired what they do & carry it out with love and joy. We believe this is something you can truly taste with each sip.
Whilst, these may look like regular chocolate bars, the truth is they couldn’t be further from. We understand that people often put our disks in the same category as chocolate which is way they seem expensive in comparison.
We know the value of this medicine & our prices reflect that value. If we gave away free products or lowered our prices, we would not be able to continue to do this work & support all the incredible people involved in the process.
What is a Cacao Ceremony?
It is important to understand the difference between a traditional Indigenous ritual and the Cacao circles and gatherings that have become popular in the wellness world today.
In the Mayan tradition, these sacred ceremonies are always led by an Aj’qil or Mayan guide who has spent many years, often an entire lifetime committed to this path. These rituals are sacred and not to be carried out by anyone not of this lineage. When we are drinking and sharing Cacao, It is important to be clear in our language, intention and actions that we are NOT undertaking a traditional ancestral practice.
Cacao is a beautiful plant that when shared with respect and acknowledgment for its traditional wisdom keepers can be a powerful tool for growth and connection.
Meditation can be hard and Cacao can act as a gentle and nurturing guide, encouraging self exploration and self discovery. The active ingredients in Cacao help to relax the nervous system as well as the busy 'thinking mind', enabling the drinker to access the deeper layers of consciousness that often go unnoticed or neglected.
We drink Cacao in ceremony to reconnect with our deep inner guidance. Using guided meditation we journey within to discover more about ourselves, release negative blockages and find peace and clarity.
Whether you’re looking to release emotional blockages, find some creative inspiration or simply want to feel GOOD, a Cacao ceremony is a beautiful way to re-align and connect to your heart.
How can I share Cacao with respect and honour the Indigenous communities that keep this wisdom sacred?
There are two simple ways to show your respect and gratitude to the wisdom keepers of this plant and ensure you are working in alignment with the spirit of this medicine.
2. Give back
Whenever you drink Cacao, take a moment before you begin your ritual to not only honour the original wisdom keepers of this plant but the land on which your Cacao was grown.
There are many ways to give back to the people who have sacrificed so much to keep these traditions alive. The first is to ensure the Cacao you are purchasing is sustainably sourced by companies committed to investing in the livelihood of these communities. Don't be shy about asking these questions.
We highly recommend this article by our good friend Eduardo Morales which offers a detailed list of ways to support and give back to the Indigenous communities that have protected and maintained with wisdom.
Is Cacao safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding?
When taken at the right dose, Cacao can be a beautiful supplement during both pregnancy and breastfeeding - In fact, Cacao was traditionally given to birthing women to provide stamina and reduce depletion during labour.
While completely safe in small doses, a recent study showed that Cacao can aggravate pre existing conditions like preeclampsia in the third trimester. For this reason we recommend no more than 15grams in the later stages of pregnancy and no more than 30g in the first and second trimesters.
When breastfeeding, Cacao is a beautiful supplement to support both mum and baby and can provide a welcome burst of energy for those avoiding caffeine. We recommend up to 30g up to 3 times per week for nursing mamas.
Can I eat my Cacao disk?
Of course! Our disks have been developed with the intention of drinking but there are no rules. Use them in cooking, add them to smoothies, keep them in your handbag to nibble on throughout the day for a herbal energy hit.
Has my Cacao gone off?
Our Ceremonial Cacao is completely organic and very minimally processed. Cacao in this pure state contains a natural white marbling which is by no means an indication of poor quality and no grounds for a refund.
If you are however concerned about the quality of your Cacao, please get in touch immediately and we will do our best to resolve the issue.
Who is The Cacao Club?
The Cacao Club was created by medical herbalist and naturopath Jordan Cohayney in 2016. Jordan was introduced to the ceremonial and medicinal properties of Cacao during time spent in Ecuador where she was invited to experience a traditional plant medicine ritual whereby cacao was consumed as a potent, bitter tonic.
The experience was so profound that Jordan immediately began to implement similar rituals into her own life, sharing them with friends and family. Chocolate was no longer chocolate, it was medicine and from this understanding, The Cacao Club was born.