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 and original soils intact.  The booming Indigenous population then used this access to under-plant in coffee, bananas, and 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 [1700's] 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, and they fought over it repeatedly.

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 thousands of kilos 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:

Chocolate goes through a fermentation process before it leaves the farm where it is grown. The fresh ripe pods picked from the trees are split open and the 30-50 cacao beans in each pod, and the sweet-tart white pulp that surrounds them, are piled together… in a wooden box with drain holes, a porous bag, or in a hole dug in the rain-forest floor that is lined and covered with banana leaves. The natural yeasts and bacteria present in the air get on this sugary pulp and begin to grow. The yeast eats the sugar and pisses alcohol… and bacteria, in the presence of oxygen, reduce the alcohol to vinegar.

The seeds sprout and then die in this hot acidic ferment. The temperature can easily reach 125°F [52°C] [exceeding the limit set by raw advocates – so almost all of the ‘raw’ cacao is not raw]. Chocolate is both a fermented and sprouted food. When the pulp has fully liquefied and drained away, the seeds are spread to dry in the sun [or sometimes shade]. The transformation into chocolate continues enzymatically as the beans are dried. With almost all chocolate, roasting finishes the flavor - without the roasting it doesn't taste like chocolate… just like roasting transforms the flavor of coffee.

The hybrid varieties that make up 90-95% of the world’s cacao have a thick pulp and require 5-7 days to ferment… and they can easily get too hot to touch. The thin-pulped native Central American varieties we use have a thin pulp and take 2-3 days for fermentation to complete… and they do not get nearly as hot. Cacao fermentation has been extensively studied and found to significantly affect the compounds, for both flavor and magic, that the final product has. If you carefully break open a dry cacao bean, you can find a tiny wooden stick about 3-4 millimeters long, that is the dried sprout.

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 15 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!  No other cacao processors that i know of do this extra sorting... they just grind it all!

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.  

Basically, the Cacao Spirit's answer was: Why would you want to make it differently than the shamans have been doing for thousands of years? Live bean sprouting during small-batch low-heat fermentation, sun drying, light toasting, and hand peeling. Do you believe the shamans did not know what they were doing... that the sprouting, fermenting, and toasting were not better for the human body, and for consciousness purposes, than any other way of production?

For me, there is truly raw cacao only in the rain-forest or from whole pods from a market.  [It doesn’t taste anything like chocolate!] 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 ‘raw’ cacao powder made from them through hot hydraulic pressing at 200°F - 93°C that I have seen have also been roasted at very high temperatures so that the machine peeling process 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 we visited 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, often nasty, for humans.  For these reasons, the Cacao Spirit 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.  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 10-80% or more 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... and... as many office workers understand, caffeine fosters aggression.

Also, our independent lab testing has shown all the Peruvian cacao we tested has Cadmium [a toxic heavy metal] levels that are presently illegal to import into the EU or California.  

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.  Others tell us of 4 year-old blocks being just fine.

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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