What Is Cacao?

What Is Cacao?

cacao composition

What Is Cacao?

You may know it as what makes chocolate chocolate 🍫😍 For the cacao plant itself, there's the tree, the pod and the secret little "beans" inside the pods (which are actually seeds!).

cacao composition

Known to have been cultivated by humans for over 5000 years, this incredible plant is believed to have originated in South America before being adopted in Central America and eventually being spread by human hands to the rest of the world. In modern times, the majority of cacao farming happens in South and Central America, and also Africa which by far produces the majority of the world's crop.

Having been with humans since ancient times, there are many, many different historical methods of preparation with some of the earliest showing it was widely consumed by nobility as a hot, unsweetened and very spiced beverage!

How Is Chocolate Made

It's a long process, and there are several different methods used between the bean and the finished product. To begin, beans are usually dried and fermented. Then, the shell/skin is removed by mechanical process and at that stage it's simple to grind the naked cacao beans and chunks into a powder which can be used for basically anything including the production of chocolate.

Is There Caffeine In Chocolate (And Cacao?)

Yes, and much more than just caffeine. The scientific name of the cacao plant is Theobroma cacao, with "cacao" coming from an indigenous word by way of Spanish, and "Theobroma" coming from Greek meaning literally "food of the gods".

In addition to caffeine, cacao contains a certain amount of theobromine, named after cacao. This molecule is very similar to caffeine, and you've liked been digesting it for a long time even if not a fan of chocolate since part of the metabolic process for caffeine produces theobromine! (see this research paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9182860/)

Cacao Varieties

There are several primary varieties or "cultivars" of cacao being produced in modern times. The top three are the sought after and rare Criollo, the African staple Forastero and also Trinitario which is a hybrid of the former two.

cacao pods

Since there are different varities of the base cacao plant itself, and different means of of preparing beans, expect cacao "nibs" to taste different depending on the source!

Where To Find Cacao?

While we would be happy to add some cacao nibs to your order if you'd like, you can also find nibs at many grocery stores, expect a different experience depending on the brand. We highly recommend checking out Vita Health and Organic Planet both of which carry nibs and powder form, and while you're there why not pick up some John Russell Honey?

And of course, very recently introduced you can always order our own unique preparation of cacao infused honey perfected by John Russell himself:

cacao infused honey

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