Food of the Gods: Ceremonial Cacao 
 
Historically, the indigenous people of Mexico in the Olmec tradition were the first to cultivate cacao. Through colonisation and trade, cacao spread worldwide and evolved into the global chocolate industry we’re familiar with today. However, in recent years, there’s been a return to antiquity, with a movement looking to enjoy pure, less-processed cacao again in the form of ceremonial cacao. 
Sources of cocoa - oceans away 
The cocoa bean is grown far from our shores. The main regions for growing cocoa are Southeast Asia, South America and Africa. Cacao trees thrive in tropical rainforests, benefiting from humidity, rich soil and protection from strong winds. 
Cacao pods, the fruit of the cacao tree, contain between 30 and 50 beans each. Cacao is a natural product, obtained by grinding the cacao beans. The fattiest part of the cacao fruit is cacao butter, which is removed from the cacao bean during production. 
Cocoa farms are frequently run by small-scale farmers and work is being undertaken to prioritise sustainability. 
 
What is ceremonial cacao? 
 
Ceremonial cacao is a form of cacao paste that differs from confectionary-grade cacao in the preparation process. Commercial-grade cacao products are often created under high stress, with the application of high heat to roast the beans as well as intense processing as they are crushed, ground and pressed into their desired form. In contrast, ceremonial cacao is created through much gentler sun-drying and milling processes, leaving its properties and constituent nutrients largely unchanged. Thus, ceremonial cacao is more raw and unprocessed, containing more benefits than its more highly-processed counterparts. 
 
What is a cacao ceremony? 
 
A cacao ceremony is a ritual where people gather in a spiritual space to enjoy ceremonial cacao, using it as a catalyst to connect with their fellows, revel in the atmosphere and bring on spiritual benefits. Specific practices vary, but the general beats are: a blessing of the space/clearing of the air (often with herbs like sage), a call for the congregated to be present and participating, then the brewing and consumption of the ceremonial cacao - the whole ritual is woven throughout with verbal invocations, dancing or meditation. Ceremonial cacao can still be enjoyed on a more individual level; you simply have to prepare a space, physically and mentally, to centre yourself and mindfully partake in your cup of ceremonial cacao. 
 
What are the benefits of ceremonial cacao? 
 
Cacao’s physical benefits include emotional stress relief and improved cardiovascular health through increased blood flow. Meanwhile, enthusiasts purport that ceremonial cacao also benefits us spiritually by introducing mental clarity (which might be backed by the expedited blood flow) and encouraging the shedding of emotional ruts or baggage that are holding an individual back. 
 
Whether you’d just like a nice warm drink or are looking for a ritual to centre your life around, this might be the beverage you’ve been looking for. PIUAROMA’s offerings (https://www.piuaroma.com/) include 100% Criollo beans - cacao buttons, an excellent choice for your first cup of ceremonial cacao. 
 
 
We look forward to hearing from you! 
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