We often get asked about the difference between the many ranges, types, and qualities of cacao currently offered on the market.
With so many options ranging from cacao powder, nibs, husks, and pastes, it can be confusing to decide which cacao option is going to best suit you.
To help you select the best option based on your needs - we thought we would save you the confusion and time by summarising the types of cacao products out there, and how to choose the best cacao product for you.
Cacao powder is the heat-treated and heavily processed form of cacao paste (its origin). It undergoes a process known as "pressing”, which puts the cacao under immense pressure, heating and separating the cacao butter from the "cake". The butter or healthy fatty acids (50-60% of the bean volume) is removed, leaving the powder behind.
Through this process, cacao is stripped of some of its fat-soluble nutrients, along with its active compounds (anandamide, theobromine & phenylethylamine) that are largely responsible for giving you that elevated energy, increased mood and sense of wellbeing.
When taking cacao powder, you are effectively ingesting the de-fatted, nutrient and energy-void version of cacao designed to satisfy the taste buds, but not the body.
Ceremonial cacao on the other hand, delivers the full spectrum of nutrients, bio-active feel good and antioxidant compounds, without missing out on the thick chocolatey taste!
Cacao nibs are basically crushed cacao beans that have been lightly toasted and fermented, and have been a common addition to many healthy treats and raw desert recipes. Unlike ceremonial grade cacao, the origin and type of bean they are derived from can vary, thus changing the quality and nutrient profile.
CEREMONIAL GRADE CACAO PASTE
Cacao paste is the ground and cold-pressed version of cacao nibs. Once the beans have been toasted and fermented, they are then ground into a paste and set into bricks-- which is why many ceremonial cacao pastes arrive in large chunks or slabs.
Ceremonial grade cacao is the least processed cacao product containing by far the highest amount of nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and active compounds.
In order for a cacao paste to pass as "ceremonial", it is required to meet important criteria such as: farmed using organic practices, derived from a crillio bean (a native bean to Mesoamerican regions), fair-trade and grown in a primary Mesoamerican region (Peru, Guatemala, Mexico etc).
If you are looking for a product that supports your energy, focus, and mood, ceremonial grade cacao has you covered on all bases.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CACAO PRODUCT FOR YOU
We suggest starting with your intention of why you're choosing to consume cacao.
Knowing the purpose of WHY you want a certain product will help its role in your life.
If you are opting for a product to add to your daily ritual that benefits your health and wellbeing, we recommend going straight for the highest quality option: ceremonial grade cacao.
However, if your intention is to add a little chocolate flavour to your smoothies and treats, cacao powder and cacao nibs are a great option.