Course 3: History and Culture of Cacao

  • $199.00
  • 8 Reviews

Title
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For 1 Serving of Cacao Drink Blend 0.8 oz Pure Cacao Discs with 4.0 oz Hot Liquid
Quick Links: What Is Ceremonial Grade Cacao? | Freshly Made From Bean to Disc | Foundational Ceremonial Cacao Recipe | Set Your Intention | Adding Sweeteners to Cacao | Adding Superfoods to Cacao | Leftover Cacao Recipes | Firefly Cacao Products

Your Cacao Ceremony Begins Here

Welcome to your guide to help you prep, blend, mix, taste, savor and even share your cacao.

Before you drink your cacao, we invite you to first slow down and set your intention for how you want to work with it – even if you just have ten minutes in the morning. Below you’ll find our delicious ceremonial cacao recipe and other tips and tricks.  

 

What is ceremonial grade cacao?

Ceremonial cacao refers to a cacao grade that is evaluated by the quality and source of the bean, the process of making cacao, and the intentions that go into making it. You can read more about our energetic standard for cacao here.

It is 100% pure cacao made from roasted and ground whole shelled cacao beans. Nothing is ever added, chemically altered or taken away. Unlike cacao powder, we leave in the cacao butter, the best carrier of all of cacao’s benefits.  The drink is made with hot water and minimal if any sweetener - by contrast a typical hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. You can read more about the health benefits of ceremonial cacao here.


Freshly Made From Bean to Disc

Firefly ceremonial cacao is organically grown in agroforestry projects, primarily on family farms averaging two acres in size. We have direct relationships with the farms, and our social impact driven wet cacao buying model provides significantly better livelihood for the farmer’s communities. Our cacao beans are grown in Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Tanzania, and then brought back to Northern California where they’re lovingly crafted in our small cacao studio. We roast, shell, and grind the cacao beans into liquid 100% chocolate, and then deposit and cool them into the cacao discs we ship to you. You can read more about the full process here.

 

Ceremonial Cacao Bean to Disc Hand Crafted

4 Simple Steps to Prepare Cacao

Whether you are getting ready for a cacao ceremony or want to make a nourishing morning drink as part of your daily routine, we have recipes for every occasion. 

Ceremonial Cacao Recipe For One Person

1)   Heat water to 170 degrees. Or use a nut milk as the base for your cacao drink. Hazelnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, all make excellent options. Try not to boil the liquid – just like green tea, you can heat out all the powerful nutrients in cacao. We use a handheld thermometer or electric kettle with temperature control. If you’re in a pinch, boil water and let it cool for a few minutes first, or just boil it and then add a cup of cold water to it.

2)   Select your dosage with intention. As you’re getting started, it is good to take note of how your body responds to different amounts, as everybody is different.

Everyday dose            5-12 discs        ½ cup water

Ceremonial dose        12-20 discs      ½ - 1 cup water

3)    Make it creamy! Place cacao in a blender, pouring 4-5 oz. of heated water per serving and gently blend for 15 seconds to create a delicious, frothy drink. For a single serving you can also place the discs in a mug, and then blend with a handheld milk frother, which requires less cleanup. Traditional methods of mixing cacao in Latin America include molinillos, which you can also find under the name, batador, in the Philippines. 

4)    Keep your eyes open for beautiful mugs and cups … a beautiful vessel to hold your lovingly crafted drinking chocolate adds the perfect finishing touch! If you’d like, tag us on Instagram @cacaoceremony to share your creations. Creative suggestions for serving ... drop some pomegranate seeds or bee pollen into your cacao and while drinking scoop them out with a spoon as a special treat. Or drop one extra disc of cacao on top of the frothy cup of cacao you made - it will melt to the bottom of your cup!  

Preparing Ceremonial Cacao

 

 

 

Preparing for Cacao Ceremony

Most Importantly - Set Your Intention

There is no wrong way to work with cacao. Drinking cacao is an approachable way to create your own rituals, and you may find moments of mindfulness weaving through your day more naturally. You can invite in any practice that you connect with to be your ally as you drink your cacao. Here’s a simple cacao ritual to get started:

Hold your cup of cacao in front of your heart. Breathe in the rich, sweet fragrance. Close your eyes, take a breath and ground into the earth. Thank your cacao for its medicine and ask it to guide you. Then, ask your question, set your intention, or make your dedication. Sip slowly and feel the cacao warm your bones.  Sit in silence, meditation, or journal your insights to integrate your experience.

For more information about cacao ceremony and ritual, visit our guide to creating your own cacao ceremony. Or to dive into far more depth, take a look at our class, Develop Your Cacao Practice, here.

 

If You Want, Add a Little Healthy Sweetener

Cacao was traditionally enjoyed without sweetener, but for those who are new, the rich taste can be surprising! (We personally love it pure).  Here are some healthy options to sweeten your drink. You’ll likely need less than you think – be cautious about over sweetening!

  • Local honey made by happy bees
  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Lucuma
  • Birch sugar

*To maintain health, sustain an 85% or higher cacao ratio. Why? Our gut flora contains competing bacterial families, and if we add too much sweetener to our cacao, the beneficial bacteria that helps us absorb the cacao will be out-competed by voracious sugar eating bacteria.

Example: For 0.85 oz. of cacao, add no more than 0.15 oz. of sweetener.

Healthy Sweetener for Cacao Ceremony

Turmeric Bee Pollen Maca Superfood Cacao Ceremony

Go Beyond - Add Your Favorite Super Foods

- Make a 50/50 blend of your favorite coffee and our drinking chocolate recipe above for a delicious bulletproof style mocha that reduces the coffee crash and gives more sustained energy.

- Brew maté or guayusa, and add this to the blender, rather than hot water. This is a very energizing combination!

- Add chili or cayenne when blending your hot drinking chocolate. Other ingredients that go well with a spicy chocolate are cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger – all of these are heating and will boost circulation.

- Blend in various super-foods, such as fresh bee pollen, or the Peruvian root maca that balances hormones and give stamina.

Pro Tip: What To Do With Leftovers

We want to give back to cacao as much as it gives to us – so if you have extra, we advise you to:

  • Refrigerate in a sealed container and reheat the following morning for cacao round 2! (consume within 12-24 hours)
  • Make cacao mousse! (This also will last three days longer than keeping the cacao in liquid form!) Pour your cacao into muffin tins, and stir in any sweetener or spices (perhaps a little cinnamon or sprinkle of cayenne). The important thing is to finalize the recipe before letting the cacao set up. Leave it in your refrigerator overnight. You will have a creamy mousse by morning, ready to eat!
  • Make cacao ice cubes! Pour the leftover cacao into ice cube trays and put it in the freezer. You can put 2-3 cacao ice cubes in your smoothie the next day to add healthy cacao to your breakfast.
  • Gift it to friends and loved ones
  • Return it to the Earth with gratitude

We know you’ll love making your very own cacao drink, and we’re here for you as you experiment with creating your perfect cup. If you have a question, message us through the chat window on the bottom right and we’ll happily respond.

Showtime: Preparing Cacao for a Group

Start with estimating how many people you expect, and add 3-5 servings on top to be safe. You'll want 1.0-1.5 ounces per person for the ceremony. With 4-5 ounces of liquid per serving, you can determine how much liquid you’ll need, and heat it up in a kettle or a pot on the stove. Place your cacao discs in a blender (you may want to do half batches, depending on group size), pour the heated liquid in, and viola --  cacao is ready to go! Keep in mind that often what takes the longest is heating the liquid, so get this going well in advance of needing the cacao ready to serve.

If you’ve made a very thick ceremonial cacao, it will actually become thicker with time, so if serving time is delayed you may need to mix in more liquid than you would otherwise. 

You’ll also need cups, a rag, and a pitcher or thermos which will help keep the cacao warm before serving. We also recommend offering cacao to the earth before starting the ceremony, as a way of showing your gratitude and respect. We like to have an insulated pitcher on hand for group ceremonies to keep the cacao warm.

Make sure to read our starting guide on how to create ceremony and hold space for groups, here. Or to dive into far more depth, take a look at our class, Facilitating Cacao Offerings, here.

Facilitation Preparation Cacao Recipes

 

Ready to make your own cacao? Here are some of our recommendations to get started:

Firefly 100% Pure Ceremonial Cacao:

Experiment with different single origin drinking chocolates. Chocolate is similar to wine, with each origin offering unique flavors (due to differences in weather + soil, genetics, and fermentation). You can combine different origins, and use them to make your own recipes.

Boundless Belize

Firefly’s first cacao used for ceremonial purposes, Belizean cacao comes from 300 small (1-5 acre) organic family farms in the foothills of southern Belize. Seventy-five percent of our farming families are indigenous Q’eqchi’ and Mopan Mayan, and they grow their pure, raw cacao with deep respect and understanding of the local ecology.

Feels: expansive, expensive, magical

Useful for: meditation and creativity

Tastes like: amaretto, manchego, nutmeg

Glowing Guatemala

Our Guatemalan cacao is grown in a remote village of 125 families where 90% of their income is made from, you guessed it, cacao. In 2016, they built their own fermentery with the help of an outside donation to raise the quality of the cacao where they received organic certification.

Feels: mothering, loving, wise

Useful for: insight and inner work

Tastes like: fig, tobacco, leather

Thriving Tanzania

Amidst extensive rice and banana crops, 700 certified organic farmers within the biodiverse Kilombero Valley grow cacao for Kokoa Kamili, who take utmost care to ferment and dry the cacao to exacting standards. The cacao from this region is exceptional as a pure dark chocolate -- it has a higher cacao butter content than average --  resulting in a smooth, silky taste. 

Feels: focused, clarifying, uplifting

Useful for: studying and taking action

Tastes like: butter, cherry, caramel

 

Firefly 100% Ceremonial Cacao Blends:

Our ceremonial cacao blends are a category of their own ... 100% cacao with best in class superfoods already blended right in! You can follow our basic recipe to make these and have a cacao drink with many health benefits in under a minute. 

Medicinal Mushroom

Belizean cacao with 14 medicinal mushrooms for immune support

Feels: calming, nourishing, grounding

Useful for: immune support and healing

Tastes like: stone, oak, brie

Tantric Rose Blossom

Tanzanian cacao with organic rose petals for heart healing and connection

Feels: potent, sensual, heart-opening

Useful for: emotional support and intimacy

Tastes like: rosé, lavender, bergamot

 

Oaxacan Spice

Guatemalan cacao with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cayenne for warmth and circulation.

Feels: celebratory, elevating, warming 

Useful for: circulatory support and community

Tastes like: chili, cinnamon, cardamom

 

Vibrant Vitality

Our newest release - Ecuadorian cacao with organic maca, ashwaganda, turmeric, and black pepper for hormone support and stamina.

Feels: exuberant, flirtatious, spirited

Useful for: hormone support and stamina

Tastes like: malt, earth, cream

Explore Further:

 

 

 

Shipping FAQs

By placing an order on the Firefly Chocolate webpage (https://ceremonial-cacao.com/), you agree that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions of our shipping, cancellations, and return policies, detailed on this page below.

Shipping Policy

All items purchased from Firefly Chocolate are made in conformance to a shipment contract. This means that the risk of loss and ownership for such items pass to you upon our delivery to the carrier. We highly, highly recommend using the third party shipping insurance offered on our website at checkout (available for about 1% of the order cost). This will protect your package in case of theft, damage in transit, or loss, and entitle you to either a refund or re-order. It's super easy.
It is your responsibility as a customer to provide the correct, deliverable, physical address for delivery. For undeliverable shipments returned to us, please send an updated delivery address to support@fireflychocolate.com with your order number in the subject line. We will send you an invoice for postage to send to the new or corrected address. Once the original shipment returns to us, we can send it out again and hopefully it will make it the second time!

Cancellations

If you submit an order cancellation request, we may or may not be able to stop the order before it is sent by our fulfillment center. We will do our best but if we are unable to stop the order before it goes out, you may return it as detailed in our returns policy below. As orders are processed very quickly, please be sure to place an order only for what you would like us to actually ship!

If you need to update the shipping address on your address, please contact us immediately with the correct address at support@fireflychocolate.com and we will do our best to update it before the order goes out, yet we can’t guarantee we will catch it before it gets shipped. Please double check your address when you are submitting your order.

Shipping Domestic Orders


All orders ship on a best effort basis only and shipping times are not guaranteed. We do not guarantee carrier shipment times, and as of May 2020 the carrier networks have been overloaded due to the pandemic resulting in some shipments taking longer than usual.

We ship all orders Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Our cut off time for same day shipping is 10am PT on Mondays and 1pm PT on Tuesday and Wednesdays. On Thursdays, we ship all packages received by 1pm PT that will safely arrive by Saturday (most shipments fall in this threshold, except for rural areas). Otherwise we will ship these packages on Monday.
As soon as your package goes out, you will receive your package tracking number via email. We ship most domestic orders via USPS Priority Mail, which typically delivers in 2-3 days.

Firefly Chocolate reserves the right to modify the shipping method and carrier used to deliver packages, as changes are sometimes necessary due to weather conditions, holiday carrier volumes, and inventory levels.


After placing your order, please keep an eye out for your package delivery – despite our best efforts, cacao left in a hot location will melt. If it is particularly hot in your location, we encourage you to await a cooler week to order.


While rare, sometimes delivery mistakes happen. This is why we've added an affordable shipping insurance option to protect your orders from unforeseen circumstances like theft, damage in transit or loss. We highly recommend adding it at checkout - it will entitle you to a refund if your package does not get to you. Otherwise Firefly Chocolate is not liable for lost or stolen packages. If you have shipping insurance please contact us if your shipment does not get to you with your order number, we will file an insurance claim on your behalf.


If you've received the wrong product or something was missing from your order, email us at support@fireflychocolate.com with your order #, and what the error was. Photos often help too!
If you need to file a shipping insurance claim, e-mail us at support@fireflychocolate.com with your order # and explaining your situation, and we can process it for you.

Shipping - International Orders

We ship with the best express option for international orders, usually DHL. We ship all orders DDP, which means that delivery, duty + taxes, and brokerage are all paid for when you place an order on our website. You can rest assured that there will be no additional charges to get your packages through customs and to release your package. We also have a standard delivery option available which you may select, but usually Express is just marginally more expensive and offers much faster service.
All international orders will ship within 2 business days.
For international orders we HIGHLY recommend selecting our third party shipping insurance at checkout for an expedited claims process. If you do not, and a package is lost in transit, we need to wait for 30 consecutive days from the date of last tracking update before we can file the lost in transit claim for that order. The third party shipping insurance allows us to process reimbursement and ship a replacement order much faster.
Pro tip: International shipping is far more economical with larger orders. Get a few friends together to share an order and receive our bulk discounts to help offset shipping cost!

Return Policy

1) Firefly Chocolate does not offer returns or refunds of opened product as this is a food product.
2) Please see below on what to do if your cacao arrives melted.
3) We do not offer returns or refunds for cacao that did not deliver on time: see the details of our shipping policy above.
4) In cases excluding situations described in 1) and 2) and 3), Firefly Chocolate will offer a refund less 25% restocking fee for unopened product returned to us within 21 days. Send an email to support@fireflychocolate.com letting us know with your order number in the subject line, and send the product back to:
Firefly Chocolate
399 Business Park Court
Suite 304
Windsor, CA 95492

We are not able to refund shipping charges. If the product arrives back at Firefly melted, we won't refund the cost. To avoid this, please ship in original packaging with a cold ice pack. If you received your cacao with an ice pack, it can be re-used by placing it in the freezer before shipping.

What if my cacao arrived melted?

During the summer months we ship your cacao with ice packs, coolers made with recyclable or reused materials, and priority shipping to protect it from the summer heat. This works well for the majority of our shipments and we feel confident in shipping your delicious cacao discs to you year round. Yet, with summer temps and without using any waxes or preservatives in our chocolate, a small percentage of packages may arrive with various degrees of melting. The good news is that while molten, the cacao is still good to use and retains all of its medicinal properties. We understand that it can be a disappointment if your discs are melted together, and we have some options for you below. If you receive a melted ceremonial cacao sampler kit you can put the cacao in a cool spot so it can resolidify. Each bag of cacao is 2oz, so you can split the melted cacao in half, to have 1 serving each (these are stronger servings, so you could also split it into 3 equal-sized pieces). Use a knife to chop up the block of cacao. Once you have a serving size, you can use a sharp knife to chop the cacao up into small pieces. This will help it melt smoothly into your heated liquid. Make your cacao! Enjoy! While it's a little more effort upfront, you're still enjoying a high-quality beverage of ceremonial cacao that tastes delicious. 
If you receive an 8oz, 16oz or 5lb bag of cacao with more than 50% of the discs melted together and have shipping insurance you can submit a claim for a replacement, within 24 hours of delivery by the carrier. Remember that the product is inherently still good and usable, so please only submit a claim if you feel you cannot use the product as replacing product is expensive for our small business!

 

Coverage Exceptions:

- Insurance does not cover melted ceremonial cacao kits.

- Insurance does not cover instances when the cacao melted due to mail carrier delays.

- Insurance does not cover melting claims made more than 24 hours after delivery of the package.

- Due to extended transit times melting is not covered for any international shipments, except for DHL shipments to Canada which are covered. We highly recommend selecting the Express shipping option for cacao shipments in the summer time. 

We'd love to help!

If you have other shipping questions not covered here, please reach out to us at the blue chat box in the bottom right corner of your screen or email us at support@fireflychocolate.com and we will be in touch soon!


We very much believe in the quality of our product - please contact us if you are unsatisfied in any way and we will do our best to help.
Description

This course is a deep dive into the important and hard-to-look-at context of the history of cacao and the impact that western contact has had on the peoples of what is now known as Latin America.We explore how ceremonial cacao is a vessel for healing the exploitative commodity cacao industry, and explore three case studies of how colonization has impacted Brazil, Colombia, and Guatemala .

We address our western cultural void and how cacao can be a vehicle for decolonizing & creating a new culture that we so desperately need. We take an honest look at cultural appropriation conversations and call out culture and provide personal examples and guidance on how to navigate these with a lens of emotional responsibility and accountability.

You will leave this course with a new perspective, and context for how ceremonial cacao is initiating an important shift for our society and our culture. We recommend this course to chocolate lovers and cacao ceremony facilitators everywhere - to truly be a cacao steward and in right relationship with cacao, we need to know and speak to the true roots of this medicine that is beloved to so many around the globe. 

 

The Details

  • When you sign up for class you will receive an email with the link to join the private social network, where all materials & class recordings live. You will have lifetime access and can re-watch the videos as often as you'd like.
  • You will receive supplemental reading to prepare for the class. This includes a supplemental video that while optional will deepen your experience of the course.
  • You will receive "love-work" journaling prompts to follow up and integrate the course material. The material in this course is particularly impactful and transformative ... be prepared to spend extra time on the integration of this course material.
  • You can ask questions about the course material and interact with us directly via direct chat through our course network.

 

    Course Overview

    Class One - Reality Check & History of Cacao

    • Evolution and Genetics
    • Early Cultivation and Human Use
    • Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec Use of Cacao
    • Western Contact with Cacao and Colonization of Central + South America

      Class Two - Where Are We Now?

      • Present Day Commodity Cacao Conditions in Africa and Beyond
      • Cacao Revival and What is Needed for Decolonization
      • Decolonization Case Studies: Brazil, Guatemala, and Uruguay

      Class Three - How To Decolonize Cacao 

      • What Is Cacao Ceremony, Really?
      • Filling The Western Cultural Void // Ancestral Lineage Work
      • The Importance of Authenticity
      • Cultural Appropriation Case Studies
      • Tools For Navigating Call-outs Including Self Care & Accountability Practices.
      • How to Lovingly Invite People Into Decolonization Discussions

       

      Did You Know We Have More Online Classes?

       

      We have broken down our two big courses into six smaller classes, to offer a self-guided learning journey through the topics that you're most interested in. These classes can be taken in any order, and you can see the entire list here. They are listed in order from beginner (cacao health & embodiment 101) to advanced topics (cacao ceremony facilitation) so if you are interested in receiving a comprehensive education around ceremonial cacao we recommend starting from the top and working your way through.

      Yet, our intention is to make the courses accessible for those who want to pick and choose the areas they are most interested in, as well as provide the comprehensive course option for those that want it.

      *If you want a comprehensive cacao education you can sign up for all six courses and receive $97 off here!*

         

          Your Guides

          Organic Cacao Beans Belize

          Jonas Ketterle

          After first encountering chocolate making with a Zapotec elder in Oaxaca Mexico in 2012, Jonas founded Firefly Chocolate in 2014, with the mission of inspiring awe and wonder through cacao. As his third entrepreneurial venture and his first at the helm, starting a business was a big initiation. Building a modern chocolate factory to produce purely 100% ceremonial cacao took many years, and now Firefly has found its footing with a unique expertise as a leading supplier of ceremonial cacao in the US and internationally. Jonas loves that every day he shows up to work, he gets to work with cacao, and it is always teaching him. His favorite part about teaching these courses is that he gets to share that rich learning experience with you. 

          Jonas goes by he/his, and he identifies as a first-generation American, having immigrated from Germany at 4 years old,  He grew up in Boston, land of the Massachusetts people, and lives in Northern California, occupied land of the Nisenan people.

          Sena Shellenberger

          Sena Shellenberger 

          Sena worked at Google pioneering their hardware projects for 5 years before discovering cacao in a ceremony in Mexico in 2015. She eventually left her corporate job which led to travels in Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Belize to deepen her connection with cacao. She joined the Firefly team in 2018 after teaching many about ceremonial cacao through her online courses and in addition to her marketing support for Firefly, continues to lead ceremonies, retreats, and workshops on cacao stewardship.

          Sena goes by she/hers, and identifies as half-Mexican and half-European. She grew up in the land of the Dakota Sioux, now called Minnesota, and lives in Northern California, occupied land of the Nisenan people. 

          Testimonials

          THE COURSE WAS SO LIFE CHANGING. IT WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN I EXPECTED. ~ Crystal

          The course was so life changing. It was so much more than I expected. My intention was to take the class as a way to develop z spiritual practice. All the "spiritual" practices in the past never felt right for me. Cacao makes me feel so connected, makes me heart so open and big. She begs for me to share her with others. As I sit with what I have learned and am still learning I have a great desire to become a ceremonial cacao facilitator for my community. Fargo needs this! I also have changed my primary beverage of the morning to cacao instead of coffee. Realizing now the janky, anxiety ridden vibes of coffee I've been allowing all these years where why I didn't feel good. Ufta! But mama cacao makes me feel so good and energetic without ever dropping a beat. Those heart vibes are so real and big. Thank you a million times over to you both... Jonas and Sena. Now if we can have a sustainable way for everyone to drink cacao everyday and spread the good vibes. Cacao can and will surely change the world.

           

          HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND EXPERIENCING AND LEARNING FROM THIS CLASS. ~ Michelle

          When I first saw Firefly Chocolate's announcement of their "Meet Cacao" course I didn't hesitate to sign up, and I'm so glad I did! Such thoughtful presentation of topics, so knowledgeable of the cultural history, literally all things cacao, nutritionally, farm to disc, ceremonial cacao, and so much more flowed so generously throughout this course. Jonas and Sena are a wonderful team of knowledge, a great balance, and beautiful space holders. This course exceeded my expectations and for me was the perfect balance between cacao facts, nutrition, history, also their farmers and standards (all wrapped around handling this plant as living medicine, a sacred being-and bean!), as well as the spiritual side of cacao, ritual and ceremony, the sacred plant medicine. Highly, highly recommend experiencing and learning from this class. You will connect with great people, you will love working with cacao. I learned so much about the plant and myself, which is a continuing experience as I grow in this journey with Mama Cacao. So much gratitude for Jonas and Sena, their tremendous knowledge and respect, and the lovely space they create for this special class.
          All the best to you both, thank you again! I can't wait to take the Stewardship/Facilitator course, just wasn't meant to be this time around--but hopefully next time! See you in the chats and on social media LOL!

           

          SOMETHING QUITE SPECIAL. ~ Marty

          My experience of the course was not like I imagined it to be. First off, equal attention was given to both heart time and brain time; and they were woven together seamlessly. While there was significant information about all aspects of Cacao, it was delivered in a heart full connected way, and rather than just receiving data points, I had the full experience of what I was learning. I am all in for the next level of Steward the Medicine while insights resulting from my personal Cacao ritual continue to enrich and inform. Kudos to Jonas and Sena for creating something quite special.

           

          I WAS ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY... THIS COURSE TRULY EXCEEDED MY EVERY EXPECTATION! ~ Lyndsay

          I signed up for Meet Cacao simply wanting to gather more information for myself on the medicinal and physical benefits that I felt were beginning to transpire for me in my month of drinking Firefly Chocolate. I was absolutely blown away after the very first class with the depth of information and education that the course provided and the honesty and candor with which Jonas and Sena presented everything. Each class continued to inspire my curiosity about Ceremonial Cacao and the benefit of participating live when I could was also a wonderful surprise gift of community! My only wish was that the course was spread over 6 weeks with one class a week instead of two so that I would have had more time to steep in the information I collected from each class and allow it to more fully integrate before even more interesting information was presented. This course truly exceeded my every expectation! I feel much more able to speak about cacao to friends and family with this foundational information to build upon. Thank you for this offering and for sharing your knowledge with the world! Mama Cacao is working her magic through you and Firefly Chocolate!

          FASCINATING & DIGESTIBLE! ~ Liz

          I had been working with Cacao a few months before I joined the introductory Meet Cacao course with Firefly Chocolate. All that I had experienced personally up until that point, I still only had a small understanding of the cultural history, cultivation, and social impact of ceremonial-grade cacao. Jonas and Sena have broken all this down into fascinating, digestible details, from their tremendous experience and research, truly honoring the long history of the cacao plant in nature and in culture. Each lesson expanded my relationship with Cacao, as well as my inner-self, and introduced me to a beautiful community full of passionate, wonderful people who are all just as dedicated to Cacao as I am! This is a unique, interactive course that perfectly weaves education, guidance, and hands-on exercise, creating leadership and integrity in the practice of working with Cacao. 

           

            Organic Chocolate Maker Organic Cacao Beans Drying Guatemala  

          Online Course FAQs

          Online Course FAQs 

          Virtual Online Cacao Ceremony with Jonas and Sena

           

          Q: I’ve never done an online course before, how should I prepare?

          A: We know new things can be a little intimidating, yet trust us when we say it's quite easy to receive cacao information and experiences online!

          Whether you are watching the recording or joining us live, we recommend setting up your space beforehand to optimize your ability to be present.

          Set the space

          • Ideally, you can be in a private space and dedicate this time to self-study. You can create a nourishing space with pillows, candles, and other meaningful items, or keep it simple.  We recommend having a dedicated notebook & pen for your work with cacao. Also water, tea or maybe even some cacao to sip on during class can be nice.
          • Since this will be via your laptop or phone, you will want to make sure your devices are charged or that you have a charging cord and outlet nearby. You can prop your computer or phone up in a chair or with books to allow for easeful watching and typing without hurting your neck or back. You may also want headphones. 

          Q: When do the courses start? Can I start anytime?

          Yes, you can start as soon as you purchase the course. The videos are recorded and once you sign up you receive access via email to our private online community where all of the course information is laid out for you. You will also have direct access to the Firefly team through our course platform.

          Q: I’ve never done an online course before... what's it like?

          A: We decided to use an online format so we can connect with you via your smartphone or computer, no matter where you are in the world. 

          You can imagine it like FaceTime or Skype video chat, but with your video and audio off. Or, you will be watching a recording of us presenting to you, webinar style. Essentially, it's like connecting with your teachers in the comfort of your own home!

          Q: What is the time commitment required each week?

          A: Each module is broken into either two or three 60-minute classes. We recommend planning for three hours for the two-part courses and 4 hours for the three part courses including prep and integration time.

          Q: Where does this content come from? Is there a specific lineage that you have studied with?

          A: We believe that cacao ritual is the art of engaging in sacred relationship with the cacao plant. In the Western context, this is a relatively new phenomenon, as people seek a deeper relationship with cacao beyond that which the “candy” chocolate industry offers. Cacao is an incredible guide for re-connecting people to their own ritual practices, as we believe that ritual is natural to all humans, and fundamental to our ability to survive and thrive in right relationship with the earth, the elements, and each other.

          We do not claim any relationship between the modern cacao rituals we offer and ancient or indigenous practices of cacao ceremony. Rather, we seek inspiration by looking to:

          • Our ancestors' practices of ceremony and ritual
          • Ancient and modern indigenous world views and understandings of medicinal plants
          • Our present day connection to the ecosystems that we live in and are a part of
          • Embodied traditions of yoga, breathwork, song and dance

          Sena and Jonas together developed the concept of cacao stewardship as a way to create informed cacao lovers with a grounded understanding of the history and present day context of how cacao impacts indigenous communities. The cacao stewardship framework is the result of frequent personal study with cacao for over seven years, on the ground visits with cacao farmers and cooperatives, and anti-oppression work studying decolonization, cultural appropriation and social justice initiatives.

          Q: I live in a country outside of the U.S. and the class time doesn't work for me. Is there a different class time that I could join?

          A: We hear you! You will receive the recorded version of the class via email so you can watch at a time that is convenient for you, and re-watch as many times as you'd like.

          Q: I’m brand new to cacao… is this course right for me?

          A: Yes! We recommend starting with Course 1: Cacao and Holistic HealthThis course is a foundational overview of working with ceremonial cacao focusing on the physical & wellness aspects. From there you can move into course #2, and so on, or you can jump around to the topics which interest you most.

          Even if you have a strong connection with cacao, each of these courses is unique, and provides an in-depth perspective that you won't find anywhere else. We include footage from our stays with the cacao farming communities in Belize, Guatemala and Tanzania, insights from making our cacao discs from the beans in our chocolate factory, and stories from our personal rituals. This course sets the stage for empowering cacao stewards that have a well-rounded and cohesive understanding of how ceremonial cacao impacts us personally and collectively.

          Q: Does this course cover how to facilitate group cacao ceremonies?

          A: We focus on specifics around space holding, and cacao ceremony in Course #5: Facilitating Cacao Offerings.

          Honestly, we recommend taking all of our courses if you are planning on sharing cacao with your communities, as the more accurate information you have, and the more connection you have to cacao, the more potent and clear your offerings will be.

          Q: I want to take all of the courses together! Is that possible?

          A: Yes! When you add all six courses to your cart you can enter the discount code: CACAOSTEWARD to receive a $97 discount. Each course is a part of a comprehensive cacao curriculum that we developed, so this was actually designed as a complete course in itself before we broke it down into a more modular format.

          Q: Do I have to drink cacao to be a part of the course?

          A: While it’s not required to drink cacao during our courses, drinking cacao regularly throughout the course will help you to deepen your relationship with cacao. 

          Q: Do I get a certificate upon completion of this course?

          A: We are not offering this as a certification program, because sharing cacao is a heart calling that only you can hear and know. Our intention for this course is to share best practices and learn from each other to raise the bar in the quality of cacao ceremonies and healing experiences people have all over the world. We (Jonas & Sena) won’t be evaluating you or judging the quality of your offerings and we envision this more as a council space for sharing and learning from each other. 

          Q: How did you arrive at the course price?

          A: The course price is the result of personal inquiry & heart-based evaluation of our values. We honor the energy we put in to organize, facilitate, and create the resources for this course. In looking at other online extended learning classes, we feel this offering is a really good value for those wanting to deepen their connections and offerings with cacao. We are distilling years of knowledge into these courses, and a fair monetary exchange for our energy input supports us in our personal well-being and our ability to run our company with sustainable ethical sourcing at the forefront of our values.

          One of our company’s primary reasons for existing is the positive social impact we can create through our products. As an independent small business with no outside investors, cash flow is a significant challenge, and the money coming from this course will directly enable us to buy more cacao from the farmers that we work with. Buying more cacao from them has a direct social impact on the farmers’ livelihoods and their communities. It also has a direct positive impact on the local ecosystems as the cacao we purchase is organic and sustainably farmed supporting thriving rainforest habitat. We will soon be releasing our Social Impact Report which offers full transparency into the industry leading prices we offer and the environmental benefit we offer. 

          Q: I changed my mind! Can I cancel my registration after signing up?

          A: In order to keep costs down and make our courses accessible we've minimized the admin efforts needed to run it. Meaning that when you sign up you will automagically receive the course recordings in your email as soon as they are available. Because of this, we aren't allowing cancellations after purchase. We believe in the quality of our content and encourage you to sign up only when you feel 100% clear on your commitment.

          Preparation Recipe for Online Cacao Ceremony

          Health Benefits and Nutrition
          Quick Links: Beneficial Minerals in Cacao | Positive Impacts of Cacao on Mood | Ceremonial Cacao vs Cacao Powder | How Will Ceremonial Cacao Make Me Feel? | Is Cacao A Stimulant? | Is Your Cacao Raw? | Cacao and Keto and Paleo Diets | Cacao Contraindications
           

          Health Benefits of Cacao

          Not Only Is Drinking Chocolate Delicious, It Is Extraordinarily Healthy!

          With 300-1200 individual constituents, cacao is one of the most pharmacologically complex plant substances known to man. When consumed unsweetened or with very little sugar, it is a superfood, packed with beneficial minerals and neuro-chemicals that beneficially affect our state of mind. The mild bitterness of a ceremonial cacao drink can also serve to cleanse the liver or release emotions, and the alkaloid content of pure cacao boosts circulation and absorption of nutrients. 

          Cacao is the best source of Magnesium

          Cacao Contains Many Beneficial Minerals

          Consuming cacao can replenish minerals vital to our body. Magnesium is chronically deficient in the majority of western diets, and cacao is the highest naturally occurring source. Magnesium is used in all key brain functions, especially memory and concentration. It is also beneficial for the function of the heart, acting to relax blood vessels and decrease strain. Besides magnesium, cacao is also the highest naturally occurring source of chromium, and also high in copper, calcium, manganese, zinc, sulfur, iron, and phosphorous. Our cacao has been lab tested for safety and meets comprehensive EU standards for absence of heavy metals. In particular all our cacao tests below detectable thresholds for lead, and all our cacao tests below government mandated limits for cadmium.

           

          The Positive Impacts of Cacao on Mood

          Regularly working with unsweetened chocolate can have therapeutic health benefits, including creating new neural pathways that change our daily experience to include more joy, love, and connection. Cacao contains beneficial neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators already present in our brain, most notably including: 

          Norepinephrine - The joy molecule

          Serotonin - Helps with wellbeing, and creates resistance to stress. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of serotonin.

          Dopamine - Gives feelings of motivation and pleasure. Cacao also has MOA inhibitors, that inhibit re-uptake of dopamine.

          Anandamine - The bliss molecule, it moderates pain, and is associated with the "runners high" effect. Cacao also has N-linoleoylethanolamine, the re-uptake inhibitor for anandamine.

          Phenylethylamine (PEA) - Helps with excitement, alertness, attention. Gives the perception of time slowing down. 

           

          Freshly Handmade Cacao Paste
           
           

          How Is Ceremonial Cacao Better For Me Than Cocoa Powder?

          Our ceremonial grade cacao is a whole food, alive in spirit. Our cacao paste is a whole food, made from a single ingredient, cacao beans, that have been roasted, shelled, and ground down. Cacao powder is processed a few steps further, to remove the cacao butter from the cacao paste. While cacao powder is often marketed as a superfood, we've found cacao paste to be far more potent as it still contains the high grade cacao butter, which is the best carrier fat for the medicinal properties of cacao. The difference is clear - try making a cacao drink with just cacao powder and water (it doesn't taste very good) - and then try making a cacao drink just cacao paste and water, and you'll see how much more nutritive and nourishing the latter is.

           
           

          How Will Ceremonial Cacao Make Me Feel?

          You may feel expansive, blissful, connected to self and/or others, inspired, connected to your intuition & vision, connected to spirit, grounded, emotions arise, and the movement of stuck energy.

          When drinking about 1oz of high quality cacao, one can experience increased blood flow, mood elevation, and a more expanded state of consciousness. Cacao is a vasodilator, meaning your blood vessels and muscular systems relax. When working with ceremonial doses of cacao, one can increase their blood flow by up to 30%, meaning that more blood, (life force energy) is moving through your body and nourishing all of your systems.

           

          Theobromine in Cacao

           

           

          Is Cacao A Stimulant?

          Cacao contains theobromine, an alkaloid in the methylxanthine class of compounds, which also contain caffeine, mateine, and more. Theobromine is a cardiac stimulant (as opposed to caffeine which is a nervous system stimulant) and it relaxes blood vessels, together producing an effect of 30-40% higher blood circulation. This improves absorption of other important nutrients in cacao or other superfoods that it is paired with. There is far more theobromine than caffeine in cacao - it is a misconception that cacao contains much caffeine, most likely due to a caffeine like energy rush from the cane sugar used to sweeten most chocolate bars. Theobromine is only about one quarter as stimulating as caffeine, and it has a much longer half life in the liver, meaning that it's affect on the body is softer and longer.

           Is Your Cacao Raw?

          Indigenous cacao traditions all over central and south America toast their cacao at low temperatures using a clay comal and the coals from an open fire. We believe there is wisdom in these indigenous preparations of cacao, so we too lightly toast our cacao, so it is not raw. And it is VERY rare to find truly raw cacao. All cacao is fermented after it is harvested, and the fermentation temperatures need to reach 124F for proper flavor development, which is beyond the raw threshold of 116F. Raw ceremonial cacao is misleading marketing (from a technical perspective), rather, we find that companies are using the term raw to describe a level of purity in the cacao making process, which we fully support and practice ourselves, but we choose not to call that raw, because it is about much more than temperature.

          While un-roasted cacao is certainly an improvement over industrial cacao roasting which uses high temperatures to create uniform results out of inferior cacao inputs, it's missing the magic and the flavor that the fire element introduces. We believe strongly that making good ceremonial cacao involves taking the cacao through a four element transformation as we work with it, including fire, air, earth, and water. So of course, we can't leave out the fire!

          Lightly Toasted Raw Cacao Beans

           

          Can I Eat Your Cacao While On A Ketogenic Or Paleo Diet?

          Absolutely YES. Many experts recommend extra dark chocolate for the ketogenic diet. Our cacao has a 1.1:1 fats to protein+carbs ratio, so it won't knock you out of ketosis. And you'll receive all the many benefits of cacao, from a gentle energy boost to the high mineral content to the compounds that beneficially affect your state of mind.

          We produce different cacaos that are 100% blends without sugar also allowing you to enjoy our drinking chocolate without any sweetener.

           

          When Should I Not Drink Cacao?

          See a list of contra-indications here.

          Still want to learn more? The information here is just a beginning. Go deep with us in our new course offering, Cacao and Holistic Health. Available online now. 

          Have a question we didn't address here? Message us through the chat window on the bottom right and we'll happily help out.

           

          Ceremonial Cacao Nutrition Facts

           

           

          Explore Further:

           

           

          Cacao Recipes
          Quick Links: What Is Ceremonial Grade Cacao? | Freshly Made From Bean to Disc | Foundational Ceremonial Cacao Recipe | Set Your Intention | Adding Sweeteners to Cacao | Adding Superfoods to Cacao | Leftover Cacao Recipes | Firefly Cacao Products

          Your Cacao Ceremony Begins Here

          Welcome to your guide to help you prep, blend, mix, taste, savor and even share your cacao.

          Before you drink your cacao, we invite you to first slow down and set your intention for how you want to work with it – even if you just have ten minutes in the morning. Below you’ll find our delicious ceremonial cacao recipe and other tips and tricks.  

           

          What is ceremonial grade cacao?

          Ceremonial cacao refers to a cacao grade that is evaluated by the quality and source of the bean, the process of making cacao, and the intentions that go into making it. You can read more about our energetic standard for cacao here.

          It is 100% pure cacao made from roasted and ground whole shelled cacao beans. Nothing is ever added, chemically altered or taken away. Unlike cacao powder, we leave in the cacao butter, the best carrier of all of cacao’s benefits.  The drink is made with hot water and minimal if any sweetener - by contrast a typical hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. You can read more about the health benefits of ceremonial cacao here.


          Freshly Made From Bean to Disc

          Firefly ceremonial cacao is organically grown in agroforestry projects, primarily on family farms averaging two acres in size. We have direct relationships with the farms, and our social impact driven wet cacao buying model provides significantly better livelihood for the farmer’s communities. Our cacao beans are grown in Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Tanzania, and then brought back to Northern California where they’re lovingly crafted in our small cacao studio. We roast, shell, and grind the cacao beans into liquid 100% chocolate, and then deposit and cool them into the cacao discs we ship to you. You can read more about the full process here.

           

          Ceremonial Cacao Bean to Disc Hand Crafted

          4 Simple Steps to Prepare Cacao

          Whether you are getting ready for a cacao ceremony or want to make a nourishing morning drink as part of your daily routine, we have recipes for every occasion. 

          Ceremonial Cacao Recipe For One Person

          1)   Heat water to 170 degrees. Or use a nut milk as the base for your cacao drink. Hazelnut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, all make excellent options. Try not to boil the liquid – just like green tea, you can heat out all the powerful nutrients in cacao. We use a handheld thermometer or electric kettle with temperature control. If you’re in a pinch, boil water and let it cool for a few minutes first, or just boil it and then add a cup of cold water to it.

          2)   Select your dosage with intention. As you’re getting started, it is good to take note of how your body responds to different amounts, as everybody is different.

          Everyday dose            5-12 discs        ½ cup water

          Ceremonial dose        12-20 discs      ½ - 1 cup water

          3)    Make it creamy! Place cacao in a blender, pouring 4-5 oz. of heated water per serving and gently blend for 15 seconds to create a delicious, frothy drink. For a single serving you can also place the discs in a mug, and then blend with a handheld milk frother, which requires less cleanup. Traditional methods of mixing cacao in Latin America include molinillos, which you can also find under the name, batador, in the Philippines. 

          4)    Keep your eyes open for beautiful mugs and cups … a beautiful vessel to hold your lovingly crafted drinking chocolate adds the perfect finishing touch! If you’d like, tag us on Instagram @cacaoceremony to share your creations. Creative suggestions for serving ... drop some pomegranate seeds or bee pollen into your cacao and while drinking scoop them out with a spoon as a special treat. Or drop one extra disc of cacao on top of the frothy cup of cacao you made - it will melt to the bottom of your cup!  

          Preparing Ceremonial Cacao

           

           

           

          Preparing for Cacao Ceremony

          Most Importantly - Set Your Intention

          There is no wrong way to work with cacao. Drinking cacao is an approachable way to create your own rituals, and you may find moments of mindfulness weaving through your day more naturally. You can invite in any practice that you connect with to be your ally as you drink your cacao. Here’s a simple cacao ritual to get started:

          Hold your cup of cacao in front of your heart. Breathe in the rich, sweet fragrance. Close your eyes, take a breath and ground into the earth. Thank your cacao for its medicine and ask it to guide you. Then, ask your question, set your intention, or make your dedication. Sip slowly and feel the cacao warm your bones.  Sit in silence, meditation, or journal your insights to integrate your experience.

          For more information about cacao ceremony and ritual, visit our guide to creating your own cacao ceremony. Or to dive into far more depth, take a look at our class, Develop Your Cacao Practice, here.

           

          If You Want, Add a Little Healthy Sweetener

          Cacao was traditionally enjoyed without sweetener, but for those who are new, the rich taste can be surprising! (We personally love it pure).  Here are some healthy options to sweeten your drink. You’ll likely need less than you think – be cautious about over sweetening!

          • Local honey made by happy bees
          • Maple syrup
          • Coconut sugar
          • Lucuma
          • Birch sugar

          *To maintain health, sustain an 85% or higher cacao ratio. Why? Our gut flora contains competing bacterial families, and if we add too much sweetener to our cacao, the beneficial bacteria that helps us absorb the cacao will be out-competed by voracious sugar eating bacteria.

          Example: For 0.85 oz. of cacao, add no more than 0.15 oz. of sweetener.

          Healthy Sweetener for Cacao Ceremony

          Turmeric Bee Pollen Maca Superfood Cacao Ceremony

          Go Beyond - Add Your Favorite Super Foods

          - Make a 50/50 blend of your favorite coffee and our drinking chocolate recipe above for a delicious bulletproof style mocha that reduces the coffee crash and gives more sustained energy.

          - Brew maté or guayusa, and add this to the blender, rather than hot water. This is a very energizing combination!

          - Add chili or cayenne when blending your hot drinking chocolate. Other ingredients that go well with a spicy chocolate are cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger – all of these are heating and will boost circulation.

          - Blend in various super-foods, such as fresh bee pollen, or the Peruvian root maca that balances hormones and give stamina.

          Pro Tip: What To Do With Leftovers

          We want to give back to cacao as much as it gives to us – so if you have extra, we advise you to:

          • Refrigerate in a sealed container and reheat the following morning for cacao round 2! (consume within 12-24 hours)
          • Make cacao mousse! (This also will last three days longer than keeping the cacao in liquid form!) Pour your cacao into muffin tins, and stir in any sweetener or spices (perhaps a little cinnamon or sprinkle of cayenne). The important thing is to finalize the recipe before letting the cacao set up. Leave it in your refrigerator overnight. You will have a creamy mousse by morning, ready to eat!
          • Make cacao ice cubes! Pour the leftover cacao into ice cube trays and put it in the freezer. You can put 2-3 cacao ice cubes in your smoothie the next day to add healthy cacao to your breakfast.
          • Gift it to friends and loved ones
          • Return it to the Earth with gratitude

          We know you’ll love making your very own cacao drink, and we’re here for you as you experiment with creating your perfect cup. If you have a question, message us through the chat window on the bottom right and we’ll happily respond.

          Showtime: Preparing Cacao for a Group

          Start with estimating how many people you expect, and add 3-5 servings on top to be safe. You'll want 1.0-1.5 ounces per person for the ceremony. With 4-5 ounces of liquid per serving, you can determine how much liquid you’ll need, and heat it up in a kettle or a pot on the stove. Place your cacao discs in a blender (you may want to do half batches, depending on group size), pour the heated liquid in, and viola --  cacao is ready to go! Keep in mind that often what takes the longest is heating the liquid, so get this going well in advance of needing the cacao ready to serve.

          If you’ve made a very thick ceremonial cacao, it will actually become thicker with time, so if serving time is delayed you may need to mix in more liquid than you would otherwise. 

          You’ll also need cups, a rag, and a pitcher or thermos which will help keep the cacao warm before serving. We also recommend offering cacao to the earth before starting the ceremony, as a way of showing your gratitude and respect. We like to have an insulated pitcher on hand for group ceremonies to keep the cacao warm.

          Make sure to read our starting guide on how to create ceremony and hold space for groups, here. Or to dive into far more depth, take a look at our class, Facilitating Cacao Offerings, here.

          Facilitation Preparation Cacao Recipes

           

          Ready to make your own cacao? Here are some of our recommendations to get started:

          Firefly 100% Pure Ceremonial Cacao:

          Experiment with different single origin drinking chocolates. Chocolate is similar to wine, with each origin offering unique flavors (due to differences in weather + soil, genetics, and fermentation). You can combine different origins, and use them to make your own recipes.

          Boundless Belize

          Firefly’s first cacao used for ceremonial purposes, Belizean cacao comes from 300 small (1-5 acre) organic family farms in the foothills of southern Belize. Seventy-five percent of our farming families are indigenous Q’eqchi’ and Mopan Mayan, and they grow their pure, raw cacao with deep respect and understanding of the local ecology.

          Feels: expansive, expensive, magical

          Useful for: meditation and creativity

          Tastes like: amaretto, manchego, nutmeg

          Glowing Guatemala

          Our Guatemalan cacao is grown in a remote village of 125 families where 90% of their income is made from, you guessed it, cacao. In 2016, they built their own fermentery with the help of an outside donation to raise the quality of the cacao where they received organic certification.

          Feels: mothering, loving, wise

          Useful for: insight and inner work

          Tastes like: fig, tobacco, leather

          Thriving Tanzania

          Amidst extensive rice and banana crops, 700 certified organic farmers within the biodiverse Kilombero Valley grow cacao for Kokoa Kamili, who take utmost care to ferment and dry the cacao to exacting standards. The cacao from this region is exceptional as a pure dark chocolate -- it has a higher cacao butter content than average --  resulting in a smooth, silky taste. 

          Feels: focused, clarifying, uplifting

          Useful for: studying and taking action

          Tastes like: butter, cherry, caramel

           

          Firefly 100% Ceremonial Cacao Blends:

          Our ceremonial cacao blends are a category of their own ... 100% cacao with best in class superfoods already blended right in! You can follow our basic recipe to make these and have a cacao drink with many health benefits in under a minute. 

          Medicinal Mushroom

          Belizean cacao with 14 medicinal mushrooms for immune support

          Feels: calming, nourishing, grounding

          Useful for: immune support and healing

          Tastes like: stone, oak, brie

          Tantric Rose Blossom

          Tanzanian cacao with organic rose petals for heart healing and connection

          Feels: potent, sensual, heart-opening

          Useful for: emotional support and intimacy

          Tastes like: rosé, lavender, bergamot

           

          Oaxacan Spice

          Guatemalan cacao with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cayenne for warmth and circulation.

          Feels: celebratory, elevating, warming 

          Useful for: circulatory support and community

          Tastes like: chili, cinnamon, cardamom

           

          Vibrant Vitality

          Our newest release - Ecuadorian cacao with organic maca, ashwaganda, turmeric, and black pepper for hormone support and stamina.

          Feels: exuberant, flirtatious, spirited

          Useful for: hormone support and stamina

          Tastes like: malt, earth, cream

          Explore Further:

           

           

           

          Ceremonial Grade
          Quick Links: Cacao Farming | Wet Cacao Purchasing | Cacao Fermentation | Cacao Drying | Cacao Sorting And Transport | Cacao Sourcing Summary | Cacao Spiritual Hygiene | Cacao Making Practices | Cacao In Your Hands

          Ceremonial Grade Cacao:

          An Energetic Standard from Seed to Cup

          Fundamentally, ceremonial cacao is about RESPECTING cacao as a sacred plant elder. Ceremonial cacao is an energetic standard, speaking to how the cacao is handled from seed to drink with love, respect, and intention. The process of making ceremonial cacao is a many step additive process: while not each step must be present, the more steps that are tended to the more effective the cacao medicine will be. Here we share how we tend to cacao as a medicine throughout the entire process, and why we believe the cacao we offer you has magnificent healing potential.

           

          Ceremonial-Cacao-Farming-1
          Ceremonial-Cacao-Farming-2

          Cacao Farming

          Ceremonial cacao begins with the communities that we work with to source our cacao. Unlike the majority of chocolate consumed globally, we don’t source from centralized plantations. We only buy from small-holder organic farms, typically 0.5 acre to 5.0 acres in size. To date we’ve sourced cacao from almost one thousand such farms. Sourcing from small farmers often living in indigenous communities allows us to have a far more wide-spread social impact than paying just a single plantation, and it supports and values traditional ways of life in a time during which many of the communities we work with are struggling with the influences of modern civilization.

          Small farms such as the ones we purchase are stakeholders in the communities and ecosystem. As such we often find superior environmental stewardship on these farms, employing not just organic principles but regenerative permaculture principles that actually improve the thriving of the land over time, whether that is tending to watersheds, building topsoil, or increasing biodiversity. The cacao grown on these farms tends to be a locally distinct genetic varietal, sometimes with an heirloom designation, that our partners support with seedling propagation in small nurseries. Cacao is an understory tree, so it lends itself well to polyculture agroforestry systems that produce abundant food staples and simultaneously offer ecosystem services such as habitat and buffer areas to intact rainforest areas.

          Some examples of the practices we’ve seen in action on our small farms include:

          • intercropping with banana, plantain, avocado, coconut, corn, coffee, ginger, cardamom, allspice, chili, achiote, calaloo, jippi jappa, and medicinals
          • improving soil with bat guano collected from nearby caves
          • inoculating soil with beneficial mushrooms from leaf cutter ant mounds
          • chop and drop pruning, leaving all locally generated organic material on the farm to improve soil fertility
          • opening cacao pods for wet cacao removal on site, so cacao pods can improve soil fertility
          • pruning according to the moon cycle, during the waxing moon, when the cacao tree is most dormant
          • managing cacao pod diseases primarily with pruning to allow sufficient airflow and sunlight throughout canopy
          • agroforestry crop planning to provide young cacao trees with more shade and older cacao trees with less shade
          • planting additional food crops such as plantain and banana to keep local animals contently munching and sparing cacao pods
          • planting habitat for pollinator species to thrive, and for general beauty
          • planting cacao trees on steep slopes in a diamond shape pattern, to maximize soil retention

           

          Organic-Wet-Cacao-Purchasing-2
          Organic-Wet-Cacao-Purchasing-1

          Wet Cacao Purchasing

          This step, while a little complicated to understand, is instrumental to the social impact we have in the communities we work with, so it is worth taking a moment with. In all the regions we work in, until the last decade, small holder cacao farmers had to do significant post harvest processing of their harvest before being able to sell it. They had two options: first, to ferment and dry their own cacao, or second, to "wash" the cacao.

          Through fermentation, the sugary cacao pulp is digested by yeast and bacteria, and the end result is cacao beans with no white fruit on them, ready for drying. In contrast, washing the cacao beans is a process that essentially soaks the cacao beans to remove the white fruit from them, and then dries them. Many local farmers drink cacao made from washed cacao, as it is less time intensive and also with less potency so they can drink copious amounts of it daily. 

          In either case, these are additional labor intensive steps taking the farmers' attention away from growing cacao and spending time with their families. Washed cacao receives far lower prices than fermented cacao as it has inferior flavor. And fermenting cacao is difficult, and most small farmers are not experts in fermentation nor do they have the volume of cacao (minimum several hundred pounds of wet cacao beans each week) needed to achieve quality results. So both option do not produce premium cacao, and as a result fetches low prices, keeping farmers and their communities in a poverty sustaining cycle.

          Enter the wet cacao purchasing model. All our cacao is purchased from farmers “wet”, meaning that we buy the fresh fruit from the cacao farmers immediately after the cacao pods have been harvested and split open, so that no post harvest processing is required from the farmers. We partner with local organizations that either establish buying stations in villages to purchase wet cacao from farmers, or that drive pickup trucks all the way to the farmer’s locations, sometimes quite far out on adventurous roads to the edge of the rainforest! Only the highest quality cacao is sold to our buyers: cacao with zero insect damage, no germination of seeds, and no mold. On field visits, we’ve often watched farmers sort their wet cacao into two buckets: one for our purchasing, and one sold to less discerning buyers.

          Across hundreds of farms, our partners buy enough cacao to bring back to a locally run central fermentery, that with outside expertise is able to ferment and dry the wet cacao to international “fine” and “premium” standards. This allows the fermented and dried cacao to be sold on the premium international market to buyers like Firefly, fetching far higher prices that support the logistics of exporting cacao, operation of the fermentery by local community members, and most importantly, give our farmers a better price for their harvest.

          Our farmers consistently receive some of the highest prices in their countries for cacao, and notably, they receive more for selling us wet cacao than they previously received selling washed or even fermented and dried cacao. This additional capital received and time savings allows our farmers to support their families better, and make investments back into their small farms. All of the partners we work with have pioneered this model of buying wet cacao in the regions they work in, often time making other buyers in the region have to adopt a similar model and raise their prices paid to farmers as well.

           

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          Direct-Trade-Cacao-Fermentation-2

          Cacao Fermentation

          The process of fermenting cacao is very delicate and needs exacting attention to produce good results. The wet cacao is first allowed to drain excess liquid for 24 hour or so, and then it is placed in wooden fermentation boxes, approximately 3 feet on each side. About 500 lbs of wet cacao can fit in one such box. 

          Our partners purchase cacao on a weekly or biweekly basis from farmers, to incentivize farmers to only harvest perfectly ripe pods. This ensures consistent sugar levels entering the fermentation process, which helps ensure an even fermentation process.

          In the first stage of fermentation, typically the first two days, anaerobic yeasts digest the sugars in the cacao fruit coating the cacao beans, and produce ethanol. The production of ethanol creates the ideal environment for acetic acid producing bacteria, which dominate the second stage of fermentation, which can last anywhere from an additional three to seven days. Cooler ambient temperatures, higher elevations, or larger cacao beans typically require longer fermentation times.

          During the second stage of fermentation, the acetic acid bacteria digest the ethanol produced in the first stage, in the presence of oxygen, which is introduced by rotation the beans in the wooden box. This chemical reaction produces the heat that drives the fermentation process, a fermentation box can achieve 120F! The fermentation is typically monitored with a temperature probe, to determine when to rotate the fermentation box, typically at least twice to introduce more oxygen to moderate the rate of fermentation.

          Proper fermentation is one of the key steps to producing the amazing flavor in our pure 100% cacao. By contrast, industry standard fermentation can be as little as 1-2 days, resulting in poor flavor development of the cacao.

           

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          Small-Holder-Farm-Community-Cacao-Drying-2

          Cacao Drying, Sorting, and Blending

          The fermentation level is assessed for completion with a cut test, in which 50 beans are randomly sampled from a lot, and cut in half with a knife. The number of under fermented, partially fermented, and well fermented cacao beans are counted, to ensure the fermentation rate meets specifications. 

          Once fermentation is complete, the cacao needs to be dried to stop the fermentation process. Drying needs to proceed at a certain rate so that excess acetic acid does not get locked into the cacao beans, which produce a high level of astringency in the finished chocolate. Target moisture level is approximately 7%, which ensure that the dried cacao beans do not break in transport.

          Our cacao is dried on elevated drying beds in greenhouses or direct sunshine. By contrast, industry standard is to use carbon intensive gas powered dryers, or to use tarps laid on the ground, which doesn’t allow for even airflow around the beans, risks contamination with rocks and dirt, and energetically symbolizes the cacao is of little worth.

          Once drying is complete, our cacao is hand sorted to remove any cacao that doesn’t meet final quality standards. Any secondary or tertiary grade cacao is sold to the local markets, and even cacao that falls off the drying beds is swept up and sold along with rocks and dirt to less discerning buyers, who bulk up cacao orders with up to 10% non cacao material. Our cacao of course is only pure cacao and has no contaminants.

          As the fermentation process has so many variables, there is a naturally occurring variation in fermentation rate and the range that we shoot for is 70-90% well fermented. To achieve this range, it is common to blend lots of cacao that fall outside this range. For example a lot that is 90% well fermented could be blended with a lot that is 60% well fermented to achieve an overall rate of 75% well fermented in each bag of cacao. This blending process helps us achieve more uniform flavor across each 130lb sack of cacao.

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          Ceremonial-Grade-Cacao-Sorting-2

          Cacao Transport

          Once cacao completes inspection and is bagged in one hundred thirty pound or similar size burlap sacks, its journey has only just begun. Our partners ensure the cacao beans are transported to port using dedicated trucks, even if there is not a full truck load available to ship. Though this might cost more, it avoids commingling our cacao with other cargo that could contaminate it, such as sacks of coffee or barrels of oil. This is what happens when cacao is treated as a commodity rather than as medicine … would you want your cacao tossed haphazardly in the back of a truck with other chemicals in it? Believe it or not all these things can happen so exquisite attention to the handling of the cacao is needed. Similarly once at port, our partners pay for expedited premium brokerage so the cacao does not languish in port warehouses where again its quality could be affected. Our organic certification also ensures the cacao is not fumigated with toxic chemicals when it enters the country (unfortunately, cacao grown organically but not certified is almost always fumigated). So step by step, we rely on effective partnerships to keep the cacao safe during transit on its way to us.

           

          Ceremonial-Cacao-Ethical-Trade-Sourcing

          Cacao Sourcing Summary

          We offer complete transparency in our cacao sourcing with our annual impact report, which details the farm gate price we pay to farmers, the price the fermentery or association receives, and the price we pay to our cacao brokers, among many other important metrics. The highly monopolized chocolate industry hides these details, but we believe transparency is essential in food systems, especially with international partnerships. Rather than relying on third party certifications designed for industrial food systems, we rely on in person visits and partnerships to direct trade with the communities we work with, for far superior quality and social and environmental impact. There is nothing better than our eyes on the ground to truly validate the cacao we purchase is tended to lovingly. And there is nothing better than spending days and nights with the families we work with to understand the many complexities affecting their communities, and to understand how we can best support each other. Ultimately we strive to offer you, the cacao consumer, an unparalleled assurance and connection to where the cacao comes from in an industry rife with poor practices.

           

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          Ceremonial-Grade-Cacao-Altar-Spirit

          Cacao Spiritual Hygiene

          Once the lovingly and carefully tended cacao reaches our studio, we do our very best to tend to it and further activate its fullest healing potential. From the beginning we’ve used a dedicated building for working with cacao so it’s energy never gets mixed with other products, as is common in many shared commercial kitchens. Since we designed our own space, we painted the walls with an inspired cacao mandala and colorful patterns, rather than a stark white kitchen space. Our all electric facility is 100% powered by local solar and geothermal renewable power. We regularly clear the workspace with sage and or palo santo. We also regularly make offerings with cedar and tobacco. Our altar at the studio anchors our vision for people connecting with the cacao we share in a respectful, sacred way. We also bless all orders going out for healing and will add special blessings upon request. Over the years we’ve prayed for many layers of spiritual protection that shield our space for creating only the highest vibration medicine.

          We pay attention to the unseen as we examine the entire process of physical transformation as a simultaneous alchemical transformation progressing through the four elements (see diagram). We take care of our people well so that we all are stoked to be working with making cacao, every day. In our non-cacao kitchen and lounge we cook and eat healthy so we can be sensitive and clear to the energy of the medicine we work with. We sit in our own ceremony in order to regularly heal ourselves for all of our relations. We also sit in our own ceremony for guidance and direction in how to make and share cacao in a good way. Through having a clear container and prayer, the cacao we source actually selects us to work with it, and we intuitively feel when we receive a cacao sample that we are supposed to share onwards.

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          Ceremonial-Cacao-Bean-To-Drink-1

          Cacao Making Practices

          Transforming raw cacao beans into ceremonial cacao discs is a many step process, throughout which care must be taken to preserve the cacao’s energetic integrity. The first step is roasting the cacao beans, which activates them, brings out their flavor, and dries out the remaining moisture. For ceremonial cacao we use only the minimal heat needed to bring out the natural flavors in our premium cacao. In contrast, much industrial cacao is processed with high heat, to achieve uniformity and mask off flavors from low quality inputs. We believe the “raw” cacao marketing craze was an overreaction to these industrial practices. Cacao actually does quite well with heat, and from the beginning we’ve chosen to stick with the wisdom of indigenous cacao practices we encountered that always toast cacao to bring the alchemy of the fire element into the chocolate making process.

          Next, the roasted cacao beans are cracked and winnowed using a strong air current to remove the lightweight in-edible shell from the heavy pieces of cacao beans. This process results in cacao nibs, which are then ground in several stages. The grinding process liberates the cacao butter naturally present in cacao nibs. Cacao butter is liquid at body temperature, so just low heat with prolonged mechanical grinding over the course of a day will transform the nibs into completely smooth 100% cacao with an average particle size of about 20 microns, which is too small for the tongue to register texture. Typically, chocolate makers will add cane sugar at this stage of the process, to grind it with the cacao, but our 100% cacao has no additives besides certain superfoods for some of our super cacao blends. Chocolate candy makers also often add dairy in this stage, but our process is entirely vegan, because dairy actually inhibits some of the beneficial health effects of cacao.

          The fully ground liquid cacao goes through another process called conching, which is a complex process using vigorous agitation, air flow, and heat over time, to transform the flavor of the cacao. With 100% cacao this is particularly important, as it helps volatilize bitter and astringent compounds that are by products of the fermentation process, like acetic acid. While these compounds are present in cacao nibs, only a small percentage of them reach the tongue when ingested; however when the same cacao nibs are finely ground into smooth 100% cacao, the exponentially higher surface area means that these compounds overwhelm the tasting experience if not removed through proper conching.

          Lastly, the finished cacao needs to be transferred, tempered, deposited, and cooled into cacao discs. When we transfer the liquid cacao, we use stainless steel brewery piping. We never pour liquid cacao into plastic buckets or bags, as is common practice in chocolate making. We also avoid soy lecithin, which is an unnecessary additive added to most industrial cacao to make it flow smoother through pipes and machines. We also make small batches that are freshly shipped to you, rather than deliberately aging the chocolate for flavor or accidentally doing so by distributing through long supply chains.

          Prior to depositing our cacao discs, we use a continuous tempering process that through precise control of temperature seeds the liquid cacao with the crystals we want in our finished product, for best melt resistance and appearance. Rapid cooling after we deposit the discs forces the liquid cacao to solidify in a crystalline structure based on the crystal seed we’ve selected, rather than cooling more slowly and creating an unorganized mix of crystal, which causes the finished chocolate to appear drab and soft. Since it is quite rare for chocolate makers anywhere to temper pure 100% cacao, we had our tempering machine custom built with upgraded components to handle thicker, unadulterated chocolate.

          Once the chocolate discs are deposited and cooled, we package them and send them to our cacao lovers immediately. The chocolate discs are a novel innovation that make preparing cacao for ritual as easy as possible. They are easy to melt and they make it easy to measure out a dose, compared to a needing to get out a cutting board, knife, and scale to break apart a big chunk of chocolate before preparing your cacao drink.

          Ultimately this entire process is a transformation of a single ingredient, without anything added besides the highest quality superfoods or anything extracted as is done for cocoa powder. We strive for 100% cacao that is actually quite enjoyable by using selection of the best ingredients and the art of process to achieve superb texture and flavor. And we take care in every step, avoiding shortcuts such as microwaving our cacao to melt it, something commonly practiced by chocolatiers making truffles and confections. To us making ceremonial cacao is a slow food process, and we know that the care taken in every step of the transformation from bean to disc impacts the quality of the healing work that can be done with the cacao.

          Cacao Ceremony DIY

          Cacao In Your Hands

          Lastly, education is a big part of our mission. We’ve been working with cacao for almost seven years on a regular basis, and are excited you want to learn from this amazing medicine also. We’re excited that you are interested in a healthy thriving lifestyle, in ritual and ceremony, in connecting with and stewarding nature, and in building resilient communities. You hold the last step in ceremonial cacao, which is why we do everything that we do.

          If you want to go deeper into where ceremonial cacao comes from and how it is made, join us for Cacao Sourcing and Transformation, now available online here.

           

           

          Customer Reviews

          4.9 Based on 8 Reviews
          5 ★
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          F
          11/23/2019
          Fred

          Deepened my relationship with cacao

          I loved the course. It really deepened my ritual and my relationship with the cacao spirit. I highly recommend for anyone who’s interested in growing their practice, creativity, or open their heart more with cacao.

          R
          11/18/2019
          Ronnie

          Incredibly Informative

          This is the first class from Firefly I have taken. I was very impressed by the thought that was put into presenting the information. I was very happy to have the main workbook/class notes to refer back to - it was very well done. I loved the tasting chart for now and future use! I also appreciated the source document with the links to research articles and more. I also feel the Jonas and Sena did a fantastic job with presenting the information and their passion for cacao really comes through. My only suggestion (I am an educator in the tech field) would be to maybe break the videos into 3 instead of two - I found myself wanting a bit of space in the second video for the content presented. Also for the price point I expected just a bit more. Overall I have already recommended this class to several fellow cacao fans as a great resource. Thank you so much!

          MM
          11/14/2019
          Martin M.

          Jonas and Sena did it again!

          Cacao and Holistic Health is the third class I have taken from the Firefly offerings and the information was comprehensive and jam packed into the two one our classes. Support materials were more extensive than ever and links to studies and articles were provided. This not only gave us access to excellent source material, it gave us an opportunity to easily go deeper into the information and better integrate what was presented. It was a fast moving joyful experience underscored by Jonas and Sena's passion for ceremonial cacao.

          C
          07/29/2019
          Crystal

          The course was so life changing. It was so much more than I expected.

          The course was so life changing. It was so much more than I expected. My intention was to take the class as a way to develop z spiritual practice. All the "spiritual" practices in the past never felt right for me. Cacao makes me feel so connected, makes me heart so open and big. She begs for me to share her with others. As I sit with what I have learned and am still learning I have a great desire to become a ceremonial cacao facilitator for my community. Fargo needs this! I also have changed my primary beverage of the morning to cacao instead of coffee. Realizing now the janky, anxiety ridden vibes of coffee I've been allowing all these years where why I didn't feel good. Ufta! But mama cacao makes me feel so good and energetic without ever dropping a beat. Those heart vibes are so real and big. Thank you a million times over to you both... Jonas and Sena. Now if we can have a sustainable way for everyone to drink cacao everyday and spread the good vibes. Cacao can and will surely change the world.

          M
          07/29/2019
          Michelle

          Highly, highly recommend experiencing and learning from this class.

          When I first saw Firefly Chocolate's announcement of their "Meet Cacao" course I didn't hesitate to sign up, and I'm so glad I did! Such thoughtful presentation of topics, so knowledgeable of the cultural history, literally all things cacao, nutritionally, farm to disc, ceremonial cacao, and so much more flowed so generously throughout this course. Jonas and Sena are a wonderful team of knowledge, a great balance, and beautiful space holders. This course exceeded my expectations and for me was the perfect balance between cacao facts, nutrition, history, also their farmers and standards (all wrapped around handling this plant as living medicine, a sacred being-and bean!), as well as the spiritual side of cacao, ritual and ceremony, the sacred plant medicine. Highly, highly recommend experiencing and learning from this class. You will connect with great people, you will love working with cacao. I learned so much about the plant and myself, which is a continuing experience as I grow in this journey with Mama Cacao. So much gratitude for Jonas and Sena, their tremendous knowledge and respect, and the lovely space they create for this special class. All the best to you both, thank you again! I can't wait to take the Stewardship/Facilitator course, just wasn't meant to be this time around--but hopefully next time! See you in the chats and on social media LOL! ~Michelle :)