Thursday, November 22, 2012

About Keith's Cacao Ceremonial Grade Cacao


 The Food the Gods… The Food for the Shift

“We had a ceremony last night and it was fantastic.  Infinite blessings your way.  Very grateful to you Keith.  People are totally blown away by the quality and energetic life force in this cacao.”  ...comment a few days after delivery of a 170 kg order. 

"This cacao is so good!!! Thank you so much!!!! Nothing comparable with those what I tried before."  ...from a small chocolate maker

This Guatemalan cacao is harvested, fermented, and dried in virgin Pacific coastal rain-forest mountains by Mayan people.  [30+ years ago roads were bulldozed into these mountains to remove the select hardwood species of high value, leaving the canopy intact.  The booming Indigenous population then used this access to under-plant in coffee and bananas, sometimes cacao – that’s typical coastal virgin where the rain -forest still exists… it is relatively untouched only in remote high-slope areas.]  On old botanical maps of the native cacao-growing regions of Central America, the largest areas indicated are Pacific Guatemala… where this cacao comes from.  This is also the region that the ancients considered produced the best ceremonial cacao.

The Cacao Tree Flowers on the Trunk and Branches

When I need cacao, the Cacao Deva (consciousness/ Spirit behind the form) tells me where to go to get the beans with the compounds and energy best suited for the work I do.  That’s my ‘certified’…  I have walked into the mountains, into steamy coastal-plain towns on market day, and into city wholesale markets… over the last several years I have been buying cacao several hundred to 5000 pounds (2273 kg) at a time.  Every trip for cacao is an adventure.  

After sufficient nibbling, feeling the energy, and communication with the Cacao Deva, I almost always buy a completely small-seeded criollo (wild/ native) variety that has spent millennia with peoples using this plant for spiritual purposes.  These beans have undergone the traditional fermentation process with the sugary pulp that surrounds the seeds.  The seeds sprout and then die in this hot (to 122°F/50°C) acidic ferment, the same as with almost all ‘raw’ cacao and all chocolate.  So chocolate is both a fermented and sprouted food.  The transformation into chocolate continues enzymatically as the beans are dried.  With standard chocolate, roasting finishes the flavor.

This chocolate is traditionally processed to assure full potency.  A quick light toast over a wood-fired stove (beans need soaking or toasting/ roasting to remove the husks, the almond-like papery skins) and the beans are individually hand-peeled by about 20 families of Kaqchikel Mayan women in their own homes at their own pace... right here in San Marcos, an Indigenous community.  This gives income directly to these women, and is the only independent income they have.  The women are paid by bean weight before peeling, so there is no incentive to include poor beans.  I also pay them well as over-roasting is standard for easy peeling/ machine processing… I like a good product!  There is very little hand-peeled cacao on the market.

Hand-peeling allows the moldy beans (in the occasional batch, more than a few) to be removed rather than machine incorporated as nibs – for me an essential consideration with this traditionally sourced cacao.  I could save time and money by machine processing into nibs… but then I’d be drinking and selling that mold.  And besides, the moldy beans support Mayan chickens …and the eggs are rich!  The returned peeled beans are then sorted again in our workshop on specially designed white trays to remove even more poor beans and other contaminants - i know what is in cacao and you don't want to be drinking it!  

To purchase our cacao, please go to our new e-commerce website:  blessings

I have communicated about raw preparation with the Cacao Deva and experimented for years.  As I understand it, She suggests fermenting and toasting/ roasting for husk removal, as that light toasting is better for the body - as is traditional and has been done by the shamans for thousands of years.  Because traditional cacao is usually dried on the ground, there can be surface bacteria and molds – a simple bacteria-killing toast is the only way I’ll peel.  This cacao and its preparation works for us and the metaphysical work that we do.  Sourced from non-hybridized and non-plantation under-story trees in an ancient tropical rain-forest on original soils, then processed in the old way with hand-peeling - this is straight-up traditional cacao. 

For me, there is truly raw cacao only in the rain-forest or from whole pods from a market.  There is 'raw' cacao where the entire pod content… pulp, seeds, and husks… is dehydrated before fermentation progresses very far.  These are rain-forest seeds... drying kills them.  Other cacao, fermented or not, is wet-peeled without roasting.  Almost all of the ‘raw’ nibs (or the powder made from them through hot hydraulic pressing) I have seen have been roasted at high temperatures so that the machine processing works… This little scam has made the rounds publicly, but i find most raw foodies would rather be lied to than know.  The cacao we sell has been toasted enough to hand-peel, but not enough for efficient machine processing into nibs.  A friend of mine was shocked when visiting a small Guatemalan chocolate factory… the bean roaster was so hot he couldn’t get close to it. 

The Cacao Spirit tells me that eating it all in rain-forest or market is fine but only on occasion… and I do – but She recommends fermentation, light-toasting, and husk removal for regular consumption... as is traditional.  As is quite common in the seed world, the husks/ skins contain toxic compounds to keep rain-forest beasties from eating the beans.  I know large otherwise conscientious raw chocolate makers in the USA that, being more 'natural' or avoiding the expense and weight loss (15-20%) of peeling, finely conch the entire bean, husk and all.  Before you consume this chocolate on a regular basis, i suggest you check inside or with the Cacao Spirit... or if you are lodged in the rational mind, check into common husk toxins - ochratoxin, patulin, and penicillic acid - on the web.  Also check out on the web the often very high bacterial content quite common on whole cacao beans - bacteria that are not good for humans.  The Cacao Spirit also suggests that cacao husk tea is not suitable for humans, although it is commonly sold.

The beans and the fermentation She prefers is the 2-3 days used for the small-seeded wild varieties we use rather than the higher temperature 5-7 day fermentation required for large-seeded South American varieties like the Arriba Nacional Cacao from Ecuador (bred originally for its pulp as a fruit snack and in the last several hundred years bred for chocolate flavor and not shamanic use) that is so favored by some raw sellers.  In general, thick pulped fruit snack South American varieties require much longer fermentation than thin pulped varieties from northern Central America.  Using local small-seeded old varieties with their different processing, our cacao ends up 10-15% stronger than the best of the South American or Indonesian hybrid version widely sold as raw cacao... and most of the 'raw' is considerably weaker.

Sure, i have seen the pictures of the Ecuadorian or Peruvian raw sellers proud of their giant easy-peeling cacao beans... from varieties hybridized by the colonists hundreds of years ago and from varieties with a thick pulp (bread over millennia as a fruit snack) that requires 3 times longer fermentation than the small-seeded thin-pulped wild Central American varieties i am using and prefer.  In addition, most commonly available South American and southern Central American varieties have a much higher caffeine content along with the theobromine... for me it is too speedy/ buzzy for the best inner-work.  There is a famous spiritual community in Costa Rica that consumes a lot of cacao, and they are caffeine cranked... 

Our cacao in blocks (called paste or liquor) has been ground in a community mill with plates cut and used only for cacao… it comes out just warm enough (the cacao butter melts just below body temperature) to be soft, and is spooned into bags to harden as it cools.  Attention: This cacao has not been 'tempered', a repeated heating process common with chocolate products, so the cacao butter begins to separate within the blocks, first appearing as little white rings and soon turning much of the block dusty gray.  This is completely normal.  It can be slowed by refrigeration, or reversed by re-melting – put it in a black bag in the sun.  I have used 3-year-old blocks of our cacao (they got lost) in ceremony and they worked just fine.

Tat Izaias with Drying Cacao

I began this business with the help of Tat Izaias Mendoza (Tat is the title of a Mayan fire ceremony shaman), my 28 year old Mayan worker/ brother/ ’son’ of 14 years.  We work with the cacao together, and I get great cacao for my ceremonies.  His extended family does much of the peeling.  

Enjoy this sacred Food for the Shift – The Holy Bean!

*Fall in love with the earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate!

To purchase our cacao, please go to our new e-commerce website:  blessings

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