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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
*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.
We want to give back to cacao as much as it gives to us – so if you have extra, we advise you to:
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.
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.
Ready to make your own cacao? Here are some of our recommendations to get started:
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.
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
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
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
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.
Belizean cacao with 14 medicinal mushrooms for immune support
Feels: calming, nourishing, grounding
Useful for: immune support and healing
Tastes like: stone, oak, brie
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
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
Our newest release - Colombian cacao with organic maca, ashwaganda, turmeric, cacao butter, and black pepper for hormone support and stamina.
Feels: exuberant, spirited, strengthening
Useful for: hormone support and stamina
Tastes like: malt, earth, cream