Dark Secrets & Magic of the Cacao World

Dark Secrets & Magic of the Cacao World


Today I want to share with you guys about one of my great passions, that's cacao. Now all cacao is not created equal. There's huge disparity in flavor and quality and purity. And I want to share some of my knowledge here with you guys so that you can make the choice of the best cacao for you.

Now cacao originally is coming from South America and many believe it's actually coming from Ecuador. Now most cacao is grown in West Africa, that's where you see a lot of the chocolate and child slavery problems, and where a lot of really low quality cacao's coming that's being done on an industrial level for, you know, the big large-scale companies. Nowadays Ecuador supplies less than 4% of the world's cacao.

And there is something that's important to understand is that if one chocolate bean, one cacao bean from one tree to another tree is not the same thing. There's different varieties of cacao. Now the heirloom variety which we use, the kind that's been around for thousands of years is the Arriba Nacional variety. Which is renowned for its quality and its flavor. And this was originally the only thing that was around, it was the only thing available. Later hybrids were developed to grow better in different environments, as specifically Africa. And the main ones were the Forastero and the Trinitario varieties.

Now back in the '70s, another hybrid was developed. Another genetic hybrid which was called CCN-51. And this was developed in the '70s, as I said and they had certain benefits that made it quite interesting for people growing cacao. It was resistant to some of the diseases that can attack cacao trees. So farmers didn't have to worry about that. And it also produced four times the yield. So farmers suddenly, in the same amount of land, were able to grow four times the cacao.

Sounds pretty good, right? One problem. This chocolate is very low quality and is said by experts to taste like acidic dirt. And this is what is used in the vast majority of chocolate around the world. That's why they have to put so much darn sugar in there to cover up that kind of flavor. Now this was originally developed in the '70's, but not taken into wide use until a lot of the Arriba Nacional crop was destroyed in the rains of the '97-'98 El Niño. So this has since then become a huge problem in the cacao world that the market is just flooded with these low quality cacao beans. Now you can understand why these are a problem. They're grown as a monocrop in these open fields in probably soil that is kind of becoming more and more devoid of nutrients. If you're growing something that's producing four times the yield, you're gonna be depleting the soil probably at a faster rate. So naturally you can understand why we stay far, far away from these CCN-51 beans. And we're very particular about the quality of the cacao beans that we use.

As I mentioned, we use exclusively Arriba Nacional beans. Now these, that name, Arriba Nacional originally comes from when the Conquistadors were asking the natives where to find the higher quality, better tasting cacao beans, and they would say, "Río arriba." Meaning "up river." And that's where you find 'em in a slightly higher altitude area, up river, and these are, the ones that we use are grown in volcanic soil in an intact rainforest environment. Why is that important? Well any plant, any food is only gonna be able to pull out of the soil the amount of minerals that are there. For example a tomato can have over 50 different minerals in it. But if it's grown in crappy soil, can have as few as four minerals in it. So the quality of the soil dictates the quality and the quantity of the minerals that you're gonna be able to be up-taken into the food. So volcanic soil is incredible because it contains minerals that have been brought up from deep within the earth.

And why do we want it grown in its intact rainforest environment? Well more and more we're learning that just like our microbiome is very important in our body in ways that science never previously before could have even imagined, we're also seeing that the mycelium that grows within the earth, these mycelial fungal networks, that allow for communication between plants and passage of nutrients and break down the soil into nutrients that can actually be absorbed by the plants. You know, not just rocks. Actually these are able, the mycelium is able to break down things like rocks and really tough soil into nutrients that become bioavailable for the plants. It's an amazing life-cycle. And so when you have monocrop soil that has been sprayed and polluted and all kinds of different problems happening to it, you're not gonna have this incredible, mycelial network that you're gonna get in an old growth forest or in an intact rainforest environment as we're using here. The other great thing about that, being an intact rainforest environment, is that the grooming of this cacao and the fact that we are paying for this cacao, we are incentivizing the local people to have a good reason to be great environmental stewards for the jungle and for the rainforest. And there is nothing more important than that in our modern world. And then it's just the best when it comes to the flavor. Has an incredible, floral flavor to it, and if you've ever opened a box of our chocolate or a bag of our cacao powder, and just taken a deep inhalation, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Now we don't stop there with our cacao. Our cacao as you may know, is raw. And it is mycotoxin free, and it is very, very clean when it comes to heavy metal contamination. These are three things that are very unique to what we're doing here. So most all cacao out there is roasted. That is interesting in certain ways from flavor profile perspective, but it is destroying some of these very heat sensitive compounds. Some of these really interesting neurotransmitter type of compounds that are found in the chocolate.

Then cacao in the traditional sense is processed in such large batches and in a fashion that leads to a lot of mold being able to grow in the chocolate. And the mold may be destroyed during the roasting process, so it may not show or test positive for mold in the final production, but what's left behind is mycotoxins. These are toxic byproducts of that mold that remain in the chocolate and can have a really detrimental effect on your health. Now our chocolate is done in small batches in a very particular environment with particular methods that are designed to prevent any kind of mycotoxin production or mold contamination and this is something that we actually test for, to show that we are, and be sure that we are bringing only the highest quality cacao to you guys. 'Cause we care about your health like we care about our health.

Then, last but not least, heavy metal contamination is a huge problem in the chocolate world. And chocolate and cacao are notorious for having heavy metal problems, and in a similar way, our partners who are procuring the cacao for us are extremely particular about the way in which it's processed. And that's something we test for as well, to make sure that we're very clean when it comes to heavy metals. We don't want arsenic, we don't want lead, we don't want mercury, none of this. We don't want any of that in our chocolate. We just want the purest, highest quality cacao to give you the ultimate experience.

So if you've had an experience that you've enjoyed with our chocolate, please let us know. Leave us a comment below, give us a like, share this with your friends if you think they might benefit from learning a little bit more about the different kinds of cacao out there in the world and how to really be knowledgeable about selecting the best one. Thank you guys so much for lending me your time and I hope this has been informational and beneficial for you. Wishing you an incredible day and hope to see you back here again soon.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.