Theobroma cacao – food of the gods

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CACAO

The cacao tree is native to the Amazon Basin in South America, east of the Andes Mountains. It was domesticated by the Olmecs (native culture of Mexico), and traces of its use go back almost 5 000 years. The word cacao comes from the Olmec and Mayan word kakaw and obtained a divine status in different indigenous cultures like the Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs and Incas among others. They prepared the cacao with hot water, corn flour and spices, and drank the beverage to connect with Gods and Deities. This highly prized beverage was mainly consumed by the elite, but it was also used in rituals, ceremonies and offerings.

Many historians consider the Olmec civilization the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica. The Olmec empire led to the development of other civilizations, such as the Maya and the Aztec.

Head carved in stone from the Olmec civilization.
Cacao is still used in ceremonies today.

The first outsider to drink Xocoatl, meaning “bitter drink”, was Christopher Columbus when reaching Nicaragua in 1502. But it was Hernan Cortés, a Spanish Conquistador, who brought the first cacao to Europe more than 25 years later. He prepared the Aztec recipe of Xocoatl to the Spanish nobility, but it was Best Clomifene Citrate To Buy not well received. It was not until sugar was added that it became a popular drink in the Spanish courts and gradually in other European courts. The European demand kept growing, and the transformation of cacao to the product of chocolate we know today started gradually.

CACAO IN COSTA RICA

DISCOVER
THE health benefits from CACAO

CACAO IS HIGH IN ANTIOXYDANTS
Cacao protects our heart and increase blood flow throughout our body and brain.

CACAO IS RICH IN MINERALS
Cacao has lots of magnesium, which gives us energy and is found to reduce diabetes.
Other important minerals are iron, potassium, zinc and calcium.

HEALTHY FATS
Cacao butter, naturally present in cacao, is a healthy source of fat.
Many nutrients need fats for your body to absorb them.

POSITIVE ENERGY & MOOD BOOSTER
Cacao contain Theobromine, a stimulant which reduce blood pressure.
Cacao is a mood booster and can prevent depression.

CACAO IS EASY TO INCLUDE IN YOUR DAILY DIET – ASK US HOW!

Cacao Fino de Aroma

The world market distinguishes between ordinary (bulk) cacao and fine and aromatic (fine flavour) cacao. The very important difference between the two is that fine flavour cacao has characteristics of flavours and aromas that ordinary or bulk cacao does not have.

Cacao Fino de Aroma give a deeper and more varied taste than most people can imagine. Premium Chocolate, just like wine and other gourmet foods, have a wide range of aromas depending on the origin of the cacao, its terroir, how it is being grown and cultivated and the post-harvest process. In fine an aromatic cacao we find notes of fruits, flowers, berries, herbs, wood, nuts and even caramel.

At Nortico Cacao Farm we have carefully selected and plantet eight different varieties of Trinitario Cacao Fino de Aroma. We harvest the cacao fruit when fully ripe and bring them to the Post-Harvest Center. In this center we ferment and dry the cacao beans, a rigorously controlled process in order of obtaining the perfect cacao for our Premium Chocolates.

It all starts with
Cacao Fino de Aroma

It all starts with Cacao Fino de Aroma

The Art of Tree to Bar

Planting & Growing

We carefully select varieties of Cacao Fino de Aroma and plant them in the field under a specific scheme in order to increase pollination and production of fruits.

Harvesting

When the cacao fruits reach a suitable degree of maturity, the pods are carefully harvested without damaging the base that holds them attached to the tree. We cut the cacao pod in half in order to extract the seeds and the white and sweet pulp surrounding the seeds. The seeds and the pulp are placed in wooden boxes where a natural process of fermentation starts immediately.

Fermentation

In the natural process of fermentation, the flavour and aroma of chocolate is being developed. We put the seeds in wooden boxes and cover the top with banana leaves and jute, then a series of physical and chemical changes take place over approximately 6 days. Daily control of temperature is essential during the fermentation. Only by close control can we maximise the potential of flavours and aromas in our selected cacao varieties, which is what we depend on in order to make gourmet chocolate. Fermentation of cacao beans is said to be the most complex fermentation of all.

Drying

With the sunlight and constant movements, the percentage of humidity that the cacoa beans have after fermentation is gradually reduced. It also contributes to the formation of the chocolate flavour and the striking colour.

Selecting beans

For the best chocolate, we need the best beans! Only the cacao beans with superior physical and organoleptic characteristics will be the ones used in the production of our Premium Chocolate.

Roasting

It is a delicate and very careful process, both in time and temperature. Through roasting, the organoleptic properties of cacao will be highlighted. Before roasting, the husk of the cacao beans is removed.

Grinding & Mixing

Cacao beans have a significant content of butter. More or less half of the bean consist of cacao butter. When the beans are ground, the result is a liquid paste known as cocoa liquor. Cocoa liquor can be mixed with sugar, milk, or other selected ingredients.

Conching

The taste and texture of the chocolate is finally determined at this stage. A slow process that is carried out in specialised equipment that refines the cocoa liquor while reducing acidity and astringency. After many hours and even days of conching, we get a very fine, shiny and delicious chocolate.

Tempering

Through controlled temperature changes, heating and cooling the chocolate, the chocolate finally reaches its stable condition so it won’t melt in your fingers. We want our chocolate to have a glossy finish, a crunchy snap when splitting and smooth and soft to melt in your mouth.

Moulding & Packaging

Finally, our chocolate is poured into special molds and carefully packed; ready to be enjoyed by chocolate lovers all over the world!


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cacao controversial

With an increasing demand for chocolate in Europe, the colonial powers brought the cacao tree to Africa. They assumed the plant would adapt well to the hot and humid climate close to the equator, and it did. The efficiency of the cultivation of cacao increased inmensly by using slaves and child labor on the big plantations. Also the time and cost of transportation was streamlined, as the shipping of cacao from Africa to Europe was a lot easier and cheaper than the long journey from its native South-America.

Today, the West-African countries of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana produce more than 60% of all the cacao in the world!

In 2000, BBC aired Slavery: A Global Investigation which brought the issue of child labor in the cacao industry to light, and since then chocolate producers around the world have been pressured to verify that their chocolate is not the product of child labor or slavery.

As a counterpart to the big corporate chocolate houses, there is a growing number of small chocolate makers who produce chocolate from Bean to Bar and Tree to Bar. Direct trade and Single Origin are keywords in these small businesses, focusing on traceability, ethics and fair pay to the farmers.

The world of cacao trade is a complex and ongoing issue, and as educated consumers we have the power to be a critical filter before we choose what to buy.

We invite you to check out the TED Ed video on The history of Chocolate.

Netflix show different documentaries on the topic, like Bitter Chocolate from 2019.

Remember that not everything about chocolate is sweet…