Pure 100% Ceremonial Cacao

Rated 4.9 out of 5
Based on 136 reviews

Thriving Tanzania

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.

Read more about how the cacao is grown and see photos from our Tanzania trip here.

 

Mood

Focused, Clarifying, Uplifting

Best For

Studying and Taking Action

Flavor Profile

Butter, Cherry, Caramel

Ingredients

Organic Cacao Beans from Tanzania

Weight
Regular price
$40.00
Regular price
Sale price
$40.00
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  • The Alternatives

  • Ora Cacao

  • GRITTY & BITTER

  • SMOOTH & RICH

  • UNUSABLE CACAO BLOCKS

  • CONVENIENT DISCS

  • COFFEE JITTERS

  • GENTLE ENERGY

  • DISCONNECTION

  • MEANINGFUL RITUAL

  • UNVERIFIED SOURCING

  • TRANSPARENT TRADE

  • Metric tons purchased

    27

  • Peak Harvest Time

    MARCH TO MAY

  • Acres of Cacao

    983

  • Organic Farmers

    7

  • Young theobroma cacao seedlings in the nursery

  • A big bucket of wet cacao ready to begin fermentation

  • Opening the cacao pods to extract the seeds

  • Sarah's farm with a big harvest of ripe cacao pods

Amidst extensive rice and banana crops, 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.
The heart of Kokoa Kamili is the headquarters located in Mbingu, which translate to “heaven” in Swahili, and is one of the most peaceful and remote places we’ve been. The cacao trees grow in the driest climate we’ve seen, however are thriving due to a high water table that is supported by a very wet rainforest preserve in the nearby mountains. People were extraordinarily welcoming and eager to teach us Swahili - welcome in Swahili is “karibu”. To get here one must travel 24 hours by plane to Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, and then drive an additional 13 hours of driving across two days, the last four hours only on bumpy dirt roads.

Fortunately the long journey to Mbingu is not without its rewards - our drive took us through Mikumi National Park, and that whole stretch our eyes were glued to the giraffes, monkeys, and gazelles casually moving through the brush. We had never seen so many animals in the wild, and such big ones! We stopped here for a half day safari, which was way more nature connected than the touristy attraction we had expected.
The country of Tanzania was originally created as a German colony, then given to the UK after WW1. In the 1960s Tanzania was granted independence. The country is highly diverse, with a population that is evenly split Muslim and Christian, and about 120 tribes with a largely oral and nomadic history. The government implemented a unique policy that required all Tanzanians to move to a different part of the country from their home village where they grew up. This policy mixed the population, creating a strong national identity and pride to be Tanzanian with a lot of tolerance for differences, rather than the tribal and religious sectionalism that affects so many other countries.

The region is very impoverished, and cacao is having a scalable and impressive social impact even beyond the farms. The post harvest processing facility of Kokoa Kamili is unique in the cacao world as we’ve seen it. They employ 25-30 workers, which in this region with very little opportunity has a massive impact. Only three of the workers had any sort of formal job before, ever in their lives! So you can imagine the huge impact this has for self worth and financial mobility. Typical agricultural work in Tanzania is very hierarchical and cut throat, and the minimum wage is TZ 3750, which is extremely impoverished at less than $2/day. By contrast, the workers at the fermentery have a fun work place with no hierarchy. It’s self evident with the laughter and enjoyment that the team comes to work with and the lively conversation at the shared mid-day meal.

The founders of Kokoa Kamili also regularly re-invest into their staff. When they wanted to promote one of their workers to become a cacao buyer, but she didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle, they taught her in the off season and she got licensed. Now she’s the second woman in her whole village to ride a motor cycle … no doubt inspiring many of the young women growing up here. This is just one example of many similar stories.
Kokoa Kamili adapted the same model of purchasing wet cacao from many small farmers that had been so successful in Belize to Africa. They had to get politically active to make it possible, as the local district government was going to ban wet cacao purchasing, mostly to emulate successful cacao growing regions of the south, even though there was no apparently good explanation for the ban on wet cacao purchasing. Given a year trial Kokoa Kamili managed to overcome the ban and then went on to create a local quality standard, by rejecting (not purchasing) any cacao beans that were rotten, had insect damage, etc. Over the years the farmers came to know what is desired and they only deliver the best cacao to Kokoa Kamili!

  • A big bucket of wet cacao ready to begin fermentation

  • Opening the cacao pods to extract the seeds

  • Young theobroma cacao seedlings in the nursery

  • Sarah's farm with a big harvest of ripe cacao pods

Preparing Your Cacao

  • Step 1

    Take a handful of cacao discs (use 5-15 discs, depending on your desired dosage).

  • Step 2

    Combine with 1/2 cup of 180°F liquid (water, herbal tea or nut milk).

  • Step 3

    Whisk or blend for 15 seconds. Optionally add sweetener (try maple syrup or raw honey).

Vegan Keto Ethical GMO-Free Soy-Free Sugar-Free Regenerative

Vegan Keto Ethical GMO-Free Soy-Free Sugar-Free Regenerative

Cacao and Health

Cacao for Mood

Many ceremonial cacao lovers report a notable impact on their mood. There is substantial science that explains why ceremonial cacao is so beneficial. Pure cacao contains beneficial neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators already present in our brain. It also contains reuptake inhibitors that block the pathways that our bodies normally use to break down and recycle these beneficial mood altering molecules, so the good mood lasts for longer. In the long term, regularly working with ceremonial cacao can have therapeutic health benefits, including creating new neural pathways that change our daily experience to include more joy, love, and connection.

Top Molecules in Cacao

Some of the top mood altering molecules in cacao include:

Anandamide is commonly referred to as the bliss molecule, and is associated with the runner’s high effect. It is actually the first endocannabinoid to be discovered, and it is well known for moderating pain. Cacao also has N-linoleoylethanolamine, which is the reuptake inhibitor for anandamide.

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

Norepinephrine is commonly referred to as the joy molecule. It is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone,

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

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

Due to these molecules and many others, when you drink ceremonial cacao 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. You can also 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, blood flow can increase by up to 30%, meaning that more blood (life force energy) is moving through your body and nourishing all of your systems.

Cacao and SSRIs

We believe cacao has potential as a holistic therapy for depression, and we have encountered the effects of cacao during depressive episodes to be uplifting and stabilizing. It is our sincere hope that someday cacao could become a part of a clinically proven method for treating depression naturally, or as a method for assisting people in reducing their dependence on powerful pharmaceuticals. 


Because cacao is contraindicated with SSRIs, many people struggling with depression cannot take cacao because of the SSRI’s they are medicating with. There is potential that people may be able to partially reduce their SSRI medication intake and supplement with ceremonial cacao, however medical studies on this need to be done to establish a verifiable protocol. If you are a medical practitioner and would like to collaborate with us on such a study, please let us know! Because pharmaceutical SSRIs have many side effects and ceremonial cacao is beneficial in so many other ways, we are hopeful that such a protocol would greatly benefit the lives of many people struggling with depression and other mood disorders.

Cacao and 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 phosphorus.

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 

Cacao Health Benefits 

Not Only Is 100% Cacao 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 modulators 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 Magnesium



Pure 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 ceremonial cacao can have therapeutic health benefits, including creating new neural pathways that change our daily experience to include more joy, love, and connection. Pure 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. 

 

Cacao Health Benefits

 

Ceremonial Cacao Benefits

 

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 Effects 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!

 

Raw Cacao Health Benefits

 

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 and Heavy Metals

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. We actually test for 68 different heavy metals, but our focus here is on lead and cadmium as those are of most public discussion.

So why is our cacao so much safer than other chocolate products out there? 

Let’s look at cadmium specifically. Cadmium uptake is dependent on many variables, including cacao genotype, cacao tree age, and other trace metals present in the soil. Notably, the more depleted the soil is of other beneficial minerals such such as Zn, Ca, Mg, and Mn, and the younger the trees are, the higher the Cadmium uptake is. Because our cacao sourcing is focused more on quality than quantity, it is not farmed as intensively as the majority of global monoculture cacao production. Rather, our trees tend to be older and within polyculture agroforestry systems with rich soils - all factors that reduce cadmium uptake. The permaculture practices that our farmers use also regularly replenish the soils. So really, cadmium uptake has a substantial amount to do with farm management practices.


It’s also interesting to note that cadmium is first accumulated in leaves, then cacao pod shells, then cacao beans. Proper handling and shelling of cacao beans can remove the husk, which has a higher concentration than the edible part, the bean. We take great care in our cracking and winnowing process to remove as much shell as possible, which also reduces cadmium concentration in the final product. With our recent factory upgrade, we actually acquired a cracker and winnower that is a state of the art German design, used in the chocolate industry for over fifty years! This results in the cleanest cacao nibs possible.

Connected to the Source


from farm to cup


Our hearts have been opened and our lives have been transformed through intimate contact with cacao, one of nature’s greatest healing medicines. We hope in our relationship with you, you will receive many gems of wisdom compiled from countless hours in the field, that we hope will deepen your practice, connection and life.

average rating 4.9 out of 5
Based on 136 reviews
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Review posted
Reviewed by Deanna S., from United States
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Age Range
25 - 34
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Female
Rated 5 out of 5

Have been sharing this one like crazy

Bought this for myself, but have been gifting disks to friends and family like crazy. A wonderful cacao to share!

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Reviewed by Tracy H S., from United States
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25 - 34
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Female
Rated 5 out of 5

Rich, creamy, nourishing to a T

Love the rich, creamy texture & the caramel tone of Thriving Tanzania. Quick & easy to brew with the disks. Thank you Firefly! I wouldn’t want to order any other Cacao! You make it so easy & delicious!!

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Reviewed by Tamara L., from United States
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55 - 64
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Female
Rated 5 out of 5

Meditative

Thriving Tanzania is a lovely cacao. I now drink my cacao unsweetened made with water. I sometimes sprinkle in some cinnamon and cayenne to give it a little zing. This cacao (as well as all the others I've tried!) helps me settle in to a lovely meditation. I put on my cacao ceremony playlist. The music and the cacao help me stop the mind chatter and go within. Then I frequently follow the quiet meditation with a drumming meditation. This has become a cherished part of my day! Thank you cacao!

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Reviewed by Ahna H., from United States
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35 - 44
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Female
Rated 5 out of 5

Yummy Tanzania

This is one of my favorites to not only drink but have around for snacks when the sugar bug hits and I don’t want to give in. It’s smooth, flavorful, and gives me a zing of energy. Love it!

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Reviewed by Kristina A., from United States
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Rated 5 out of 5

Grounding

First time trying this particular cacao from Firefly. It was rich, earthy, and grounding. I found myself having a luxurious and sweet grounding experience (even with the bitter taste of cacao). So freaking good.

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