What's the difference between cacao and cocoa?
Cacao isn't a completely alien, new thing; the hot cocoa you've been sipping on or chocolate you've been munching comes from the cacao plant. No wonder it can get confusing! In short, the cocoa powder you may be more familiar with comes from the beans that have been fermented and roasted at a high temperature, whereas cacao is the raw, unprocessed version. Even if you go on to make it into a hot drink or bake with it, cacao has been preserved at harvest in its most raw form. As a result it's bitter in taste and higher in nutritional value.
How does cacao work?
Cacao can be used to enhance one’s mental states, from focus and meditation, to feeling deeper and more pleasureful connections. Packed full of theobromine, it is a must-have plant in our dark, rich and blissful Social Elixir.
It should be noted that theobromine is not a psychedelic, rather it is a psychoactive compound. This compound is similar to caffeine, see the molecular structure of caffeine below:
How often have you found yourself exhausted and craving a coffee? Caffeine blocks sleep-promoting receptors in your brain; the energy it gives is a facade. That's not to say it's not a very good one or that it's without its uses! But the more sleep receptors are blocked, the more that crop up, therefore more caffeine is needed over time. It can be a viscous cycle that ends with you necking an espresso at 4pm and getting no uplift in energy but rather a fast beating heart full of regret.
Theobromine has different effects -it is stimulating like caffeine but in a calm and blissful way, with consumers reporting a pleasureful body high. Some people use cacao to sharpen their focus and mind, in fact our co-founder Dash swears by his morning cup of cacao! It's no wonder he used it in our Three Spirit elixirs, with its lovely rich taste and all of these pleasureful properties.
We use dry powdered extracts of high-grade cacao in Social Elixir, which allows us to extract the maximum amount of theobromine. Cacao is also packed with antioxidants and polyphenols.
Cacao holds ancient significance. Native to the Amazon and dating back to Mayans, this isn't just a new wellness trend but a special plant that has been used in spiritual ceremonies centuries ago. During the time of the Aztecs, it was a huge part of their trade and is thought to have held more value than gold. By the 1500s, Europe had caught on to cacao's magical properties. As a result, cacao plantations were started in Africa.
With the invention of the chocolate bar in the 1800s, this sweet treat overtook cacao's original uses in Europe and only in recent years has cacao in its raw form been cropping up again as a wellness craze. If you want to read
The history is a worthy deep dive, and the exploitation of people juxtaposed with the love that goes into making the product is a part of that history. Three Spirit are proud to be a B-Corp, holding ethical and sustainable sourcing at the heart of their mission.
Ceremonial cacao recipe
45g Keiths Cacao
200ml oat milk or favorite dairy-free alternative
200ml boiled water
5-10ml / 1 - 2 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of sea salt
10ml / 2sp maple syrup (or your favourite sweetener if you need a low sugar diet)
1. Weigh the cacao and break / cut into small pieces
2. Heat up the oat milk in a good sized pot - but don't let it boil
3. Add the cacao
4. Boil your water and add to the pot
5. Stir in the vanilla, salt and maple
6. Use a whisk to blend together or pour into a blender and zap
7. Pour and enjoy hot