Thriving Tanzania Ceremonial Drinking Chocolate


+ -
1oz Cacao Discs Makes 1 Serving
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 Guatemala, Belize 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

How 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. You can view our full recipes list here.

Foundational 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, all make excellent options. Try not to boil the water – just like green tea, you can heat out all the powerful nutrients. 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 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

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.

 

Optionally Add A 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

Optionally Add 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. Mocha Heart Blast Recipe

- 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. A few ideas: Morning Glow Recipe | From Mind to Heart Recipe | Morning Elevate Recipe | Bzzz Belizean Mornings Recipe

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.

Firefly 100% 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 also combine different origins …

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

The newest ceremonial cacao to join Firefly, 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 Super Cacao Blends:

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

Mayan 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

Mighty Maca

Tanzanian cacao with organic maca powder for hormonal balancing and 15% coconut sugar 

Feels: exuberant, flirtatious, spirited

Useful for: hormone support and stamina

Tastes like: malt, earth, cream

Explore Further:

 

Shipping FAQs

 

Domestic Orders


We'll get you the cacao that you need as fast as possible. We ship daily on weekdays: the shipping cutoff time is 12PM EST for eastern US orders and 12PM PST for western US orders. As soon as your package goes out, you will receive your package tracking number via email. After placing your order, please keep an eye out for your package delivery – despite our best efforts, cacao left in a hot mailbox will melt! 

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. You can learn more about how to opt in to low-cost shipping insurance and protect your orders here. Please contact us if your shipment does not get to you with your order number, we will file an insurance claim on your behalf.

I received the wrong product, or something is missing from my order.

I need to file a shipping insurance claim.

International Orders

We partner with DHL and UPS to offer the fastest and most cost-effective international shipping rates available. We ship daily on weekdays. As soon as your package goes out, you will receive your package tracking number via email. 

Estimated international shipping time is as follows:

Standard: 7-14 days

Expedited: 3-7 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!

 

What if my cacao arrived melted?

While we do our best to get your cacao discs to your intact, they can melt if they are in direct sunlight or temperatures over 80F for too long, like in a hot mailbox or during a hot day. While we do know this can be disappointing when you've been waiting for your lovely cacao discs, the good news is that your cacao is still good to use!

Until Firefly began offering discs, all ceremonial cacao was actually sold in big blocks, so you are just experiencing how most people made ceremonial cacao a few years ago. As a block or a disc, the cacao retains all of its medicinal properties (this is why it works well in a hot cacao beverage :)) So, how do you make it?

First, put the cacao in a cool spot so it can reharden. Check the size of your bag to help you measure your cacao dose. If you purchased a cacao ceremony sampler kit, 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). Similarly, if you have an 8oz or 16oz bag, you'll have 8 or 16 servings inside. A scale can also be helpful here.

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 up front, you're still enjoying a high quality beverage of ceremonial cacao that tastes delicious. 

 

 

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 orders@fireflychocolate.com and we will be in touch soon!

Description

Feels: Focused, Clarifying, Uplifting
Useful For: Studying & Taking Action
Tastes Like: Butter, Cherry, Caramel

...Read more

This first ceremonial cacao from Africa is grown amidst the laughter and close relationships of thriving village life. Amidst extensive rice and banana crops, seven hundred certified organic farmers within the biodiverse Kilombero Valley grow cacao for Kokoa Kamili, who takes utmost care to ferment and dry the cacao to exacting standards that offer the best quality on the continent. 

This ceremonial cacao comes from 700 small (0.5-2 acre) organic family farms in the Kilombero Valley, which borders Udzungwa Mountains National Park, a spot known for its biodiversity. Our partners here are Kokoa Kamili (Quality Cacao in Swahili), and their model is inspired by our partners in Belize. In its first three years, Kokoa Kamili farmers have received the highest prices for cacao in Tanzania. The cacao from this region is exceptional as a pure dark chocolate as it has a higher cacao butter content than average, resulting in a silky smoothness.

ORGANIC - VEGAN - PALEO - KETO APPROVED - SUGAR FREE - GMO FREE - SOY FREE - GLUTEN FREE

Our unsweetened drinking chocolate is freshly made in micro batches from whole raw cacao beans and nothing else. Unlike cocoa powder, our whole food cacao includes cacao butter, a high-grade natural fat is the most effective carrier of cacao's medicinal benefits. Cacao is the best natural source of magnesium and chromium, and contains many other beneficial trace minerals. Our cacao has been lab tested for safety and meets comprehensive EU standards for absence of heavy metals.

Your order includes a free 10 minute call to get you started making cacao recipes or prepared for your next cacao ceremony.
Health Benefits
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

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.

 

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.

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

 

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 Guatemala, Belize 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

How 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. You can view our full recipes list here.

Foundational 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, all make excellent options. Try not to boil the water – just like green tea, you can heat out all the powerful nutrients. 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 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

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.

 

Optionally Add A 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

Optionally Add 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. Mocha Heart Blast Recipe

- 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. A few ideas: Morning Glow Recipe | From Mind to Heart Recipe | Morning Elevate Recipe | Bzzz Belizean Mornings Recipe

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.

Firefly 100% 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 also combine different origins …

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

The newest ceremonial cacao to join Firefly, 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 Super Cacao Blends:

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

Mayan 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

Mighty Maca

Tanzanian cacao with organic maca powder for hormonal balancing and 15% coconut sugar 

Feels: exuberant, flirtatious, spirited

Useful for: hormone support and stamina

Tastes like: malt, earth, cream

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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

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.

 

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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

 

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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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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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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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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.

 

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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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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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Cacao Making Practices

As we physically transform the cacao from raw cacao beans to ceremonial cacao discs, we take great care to preserve its energetic integrity. Compared to the high levels of heat used to process industrial cacao and mask defective quality going in, we use only the minimal heat needed to bring out the natural flavors properly developed in our premium cacao. Yet on the flipside, amidst the “raw” cacao marketing craze, we stuck with the wisdom of indigenous cacao practices and instead emphasized the value and safety of working with the element of fire and cacao. All our cacao has always been cane sugar free, cane sugar having too strong an effect for people to tune into the subtle energies of the cacao. At most we’ll use coconut sugar, a low glycemic index sweetener whose energy release profile matches the stimulant properties of theobromine.

 

We never pour liquid cacao into plastic buckets or bags, as is common practice in chocolate making. We never microwave our cacao at any stage, as is common practice with chocolatiers. We make small batches that are freshly shipped to you, rather than deliberately aged for flavor or accidentally aged in long supply chains. Our chocolate making process is vegan, there is no dairy added to the cacao as is common with milk chocolate, which however reduces the health effects of the cacao. Our cacao is also soy free, which is an unnecessary additive used for processing industrial cacao (soy lecithin is an emulsifier, making cacao smoother flowing). Rather, we specified our machines with more robust components and drives to handle thicker, emulsifier free chocolate.

 

Ultimately, we don’t remove or extract anything from our cacao (as is super common practice with the manufacture of cocoa powder), nor do we add anything besides the highest quality superfoods. We share cacao as a whole food medicine, rather than candy. 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. We also designed our product to be easy to prepare for regular ceremony or micro-dosing, so that the cacao does not sit in a big chunk in a cupboard unused because it is too time intensive to prepare it as a drink.

 

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.

 

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