Cacao is made from the edible seed of the Theobroma Cacao tree. These seeds, or “beans,” as they are commonly referred to, are the primary ingredient in chocolate and the only ingredient in our 100% Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao. The beans are harvested from multi-colored pods that grow on cacao trees.
There are several distinct qualities that differentiate ceremonial grade cacao from industrial chocolate and cacao.
The first is that the beans used to create ceremonial grade cacao are sourced from non-hybridized and non-plantation under-story trees in ancient tropical rainforests, then processed in the old way by hand toasting and peeling. These beans, also referred to as criollo, are the original heirloom variety that has been grown and propagated for millennia in central and South America. There are several other varieties of commercially grown and hybridized cacao called Forestero, Trinitario and Arriba Nacional which we do not recommend for ceremonial use.
The second quality is that ceremonial grade cacao is minimally processed to preserve the maximum amount of beneficial compounds. The toasted and peeled beans are ground and packaged without tempering (extra heating) and without adding or removing anything, which results in 100% pure cacao.
The third quality that ceremonial grade cacao has that most other chocolate does not have is that it is selected with the intention of it being used in a ceremonial way. The intention of Keith’s Cacao is to produce the world’s finest quality ceremonial grade cacao to best support personal growth, spiritual exploration, deep inspiration and connection with the Divine through whatever means you choose.
Most cocoa products are highly processed in large batches, resulting in a food product that is nearly void of all beneficial nutrients and compounds. Dutch process cocoa being some of the least beneficial, requires the addition of alkali, which strips the cocoa of the bitter flavor, and therefore, the most beneficial essences of this magical plant are lost. This is the same reason that mainstream chocolate bars are virtually an empty food, and not a beneficial addition to life for nutrition or wellness.
Other cacao products in health food stores are great for adding nutrients and minerals to your daily diet, however they are often processed in large batches and may or may not be grown and processed with the intention of being a ceremonial use or spiritual support tool for the eater. They may also be made from hybridized varieties of cacao, designed for higher yields and disease resistant plants, not for the highest medicinal quality, as are the heirloom criollo varieties that we select.
We do not consider our cacao to be raw. But this really depends on how you define raw. Raw cacao is a highly debated topic. The fermentation and drying processes are considered an essential step in creating Ceremonial Grade Cacao. Temperatures during these processes can rise above 122 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 Celsius, which is higher than the commonly agreed upon maximum temperature for “raw” food.
Yes. All of the naturally-occurring cacao butter in our cacao beans is present in our Ceremonial Grade Cacao Paste. Keith's Cacao has nothing removed and nothing added. Our whole, hand-toasted and hand-peeled cacao beans are ground into a 100% pure paste.
Fermentation is a critical part of cacao processing for many different reasons, which include reducing the amount of very bitter and astringent tannins that occur naturally in cacao. Important chemical changes, such as enzymes being released inside the beans, happen during the fermentation process and help develop the intensely rich chocolate flavor and energies.
When cacao is traditionally processed, it is sun dried on the ground and therefore can become contaminated with surface bacteria and mold. A light toasting and peeling eliminates any cause for concern and results in a superior product. Properly toasting the beans also develops the rich chocolatey flavors that we all love. Hand peeling the beans ensures that only the finest quality beans are used to create Keith’s Cacao products as each bean is inspected as it’s peeled.
Ceremonial grade cacao is very low in caffeine, a small fraction of that found in a cup of coffee. Cacao contains a sister chemical compound called theobromine, which is also a naturally occurring stimulant, but one that creates greater mental focus and creativity, without the jittery after effects of caffeine. The experience of each person is different when consuming our cacao in the evening. If you find yourself awake past your normal bedtime, consider using this alert focused time to do some deeper inner work and creative processing of whatever emotions or inspiration arises for you.
What your cacao is experiencing is called "bloom." Bloom is the natural separation of the cacao butter from the cacao mass that occurs in all non-tempered chocolate or cacao. The blooming process begins immediately after the cacao cools. We believe our cacao retains its ceremonial grade qualities if we skip the tempering process. Tempering is the repeated heating and cooling of chocolate to produce a smooth, glossy finish chocolatiers love when making candies. This blooming is harmless - many believe it produces beautiful patterns and we personally love how easy it is to break down a bloomed brick of Keith's magical cacao! Bloom does not affect flavor or the vibrational/energetic properties of our cacao.
TIP: If smooth, uniform cacao is what you desire, you can simply melt down a bloomed block of our cacao, give it a stir, and pour it into a container to cool. It will harden as a uniformly blended cacao block all over again.
From Keith Wilson (Founder of Keith's Cacao) Original Ceremonial Cacao Blog: We do not temper our cacao, a process that alternately heats and cools the chocolate to ‘crystallize’ it and prevent cacao butter separation. After packaging, the cacao butter begins to separate in the blocks, first forming swirls or white rings (looks like it might be mold – it isn’t!) and eventually turning the entire block dusty grey and crumbly. This is completely normal. The changing texture does not affect the ceremonial quality or the flavor of the cacao.
Keith’s Cacao is not "certified" organic or fair trade by any third parties. Our cacao is grown naturally, in the understory of the rainforest, under the same conditions in which it has thrived for thousands of years. These ideal growing conditions (unlike plantation cacao) do not require chemical fertilizers or pesticides. By our definition, Keith's Cacao is organic. The farmers who grow Keith’s Cacao are paid fairly for their efforts. Keith’s Cacao cares deeply about everyone involved in the creation of our products. We have created beautiful working partnerships with many local Guatemalan/Mayan men and women who are employed to carry out a variety of tasks in the process of creating Keith’s Cacao products.
Our cacao is best stored in a cool, dry place - like a kitchen cabinet. After you have opened your cacao package, we suggest sealing it in an air tight container, like a jar, to preserve its freshness.
If your cacao appears wet and soft, as seen in this video clip, your cacao has melted. This often occurs when cacao is shipped to a warm climate during summer months or if your package of cacao has spent many hours in a hot mailbox or has been sitting in direct sunlight.
There is nothing wrong, your cacao is ready to eat and very easy to portion in this state. If you want your cacao to harden back up, just put it in a cool dry place for a several hours.
Cacao Ceremony is a widely used term that generally refers to the use of cacao in a respectful way, usually with the intention of personal growth. Keith’s Cacao has partnered with practitioners around the world who have been working extensively with Keith’s Cacao and who understand the importance that ceremonial grade cacao plays in the shifting of consciousness happening right now around our planet.
Ceremonies of many kinds are a traditional and intrinsic part of every culture on earth. From birth, death, initiations and weddings there are ceremonies performed for many reasons in our world today. Particularly in more ancient times there was a greater understanding of the need for sacred ceremonies in every community. These sacred ceremonies are generally a place for people to connect with others in their community.
Using cacao as a plant medicine facilitator in this process helps to promote self-love, kindness, compassion, patience and understanding within the group that takes part in these gatherings. These types of events, gatherings and ceremonies help create a more heart-centered and cohesive society for all to enjoy.
This is a question only you and your body can answer. Many are so connected to the Cacao Spirit that they only need a tiny amount to experience the benefits of cacao. Through Keith’s intuitive guidance and personal trials, he has found that 42.5 grams is the magic amount that creates an ideal condition for spiritual work. More than this may result in nausea or other unpleasant side effects, so please use wisely – but it is your body that decides – test for yourself.
Each person’s experience will be different from another’s and each ceremony will bring a different experience. Your experience depends largely on your intention for ingesting this wonderful plant medicine, so be sure to set your intention clearly each time that you prepare to drink ceremonial grade cacao.
On a physical level, cacao is a diuretic, much like coffee and tea, and therefore it is very important to drink extra water before and after partaking in a ceremonial dose of cacao. (A good practice is to allow the cacao to fully integrate into your system for about 1 hour before drinking water.)
Most people report some or all of the following:
A sustained boost of energy, and mental focus lasting several hours, without the inevitable crash associated with other stimulating beverages / foods.
An increased heart rate and greater awareness of one’s heart center or heart chakra.
Greater ease of identifying self-created limitations and emotional blockages.
Deepening and enhancement of spiritual and creative practices such as yoga, meditation, writing, dance, music, etc.
Keith’s Cacao does all of this while creating a gentle state of euphoria that makes everything seem easier, brighter and more fun!
Keith’s ceremonial grade cacao is NOT a psychedelic substance; however, it is referred to as an entheogen. This means that it belongs to a group of plants which, when consumed in particular doses, may cause one to become inspired or to experience feelings of inspiration, as is the meaning of "entheogen" - full of God, full of Spirit. The taxonomic name of the cacao tree is Theobroma Cacao, literally translating to "Food of the Gods."
100% Pure Ceremonial Grade Cacao is a powerful plant medicine, but it works with your body in a subtle physical and energetic way. Keith’s Cacao is not a mind-altering substance although it does allow you to consciously contemplate and consider the way your mind works.
"Cacao isn’t taking you on a "trip", you must be willing to go by your own choice. The heart-centered anchor that ceremonial cacao is, makes it much more likely that wherever one is going, it is with more love and less fear. Cacao brings you to the door, but doesn't push you through it."
- Keith Wilson, The Chocolate Shaman
Note: Cacao is sometimes confused with Coca, the medicinal leaf of a south American tree best known as being used to produce the drug cocaine. These two plants are not related in any way and cacao is a completely legal plant medicine.
This phrase refers to the powerful essence that accompanies cacao, the plant medicine. Cacao is one of the great teacher plants on our planet and one of her greatest teachings is that of heart-centered connection. The most tangible way of experiencing this for yourself is to use our cacao with the intention of connecting with this plant spirit.
100% pure cacao is bitter. As with any bitter, too much can make you nauseous. Most drink less than 2 to 3 ounces (57 to 85 grams) of cacao a day. Over time, as your body attunes to the cacao, you may find that you need less cacao to feel the full effect. Less can be more. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Depending on dosage, SSRI antidepressants and anti-psychotics are not compatible with the MAOI's (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) in cacao. Low to average doses should be ok, people on higher doses should drink less cacao. Check with your doctor.
Our cacao will raise your heart rate slightly. If an increase in your heart rate could cause a medical problem, drink less. Check with your doctor.
Many folks with low blood pressure tell Keith that our cacao (low-caffeine) stabilizes their heart and helps them. Check with your doctor.
Other substances with your cacao:
Our cacao increases blood flow to the brain by 30-40%… so any other substances in your blood will be amplified.
Keith is often asked by people with a caffeine intolerance if they can use cacao. The caffeine content of cacao varies widely among cacao varieties and cacao makers. Lab testing has revealed that our cacao contains about as much caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.
Pregnant and nursing women:
Most babies, in or out of the womb, do really well with mom consuming our cacao, and we know of many awesome 'cacao children'. About 1oz (28gm) in the first 2 trimesters, about 2/3oz (20gm) dose in the last trimester. There are a few fetuses and breast-fed babies that do not like cacao... it is not a problem, but they will let you know so start easy and find what is right for you. We recommend 2/3oz (20gm) while breast feeding until it is clear how the infant reacts.
Use less than an adult dose, according to the child’s body weight. It depends on the child. They will let you know. Children who have had an appropriate amount of cacao are more focused.
Real cacao contains compounds that can kill dogs, cats, parrots, and horses. Don’t let them eat it!
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