What is the difference between cocoa and cacao? Relatedly, what is the difference between raw and dried cacao?
Cocoa, a dried cacao such as cocoa powder, is a derivative product made from roasting cacao beans. On the other hand, cacao, also referred to as raw cacao, refers to the fruit itself and the products made from the seeds without roasting them at high temperatures. Overall, the main difference between raw and dried cacao, is the exposure of the dried cacao bean to temperatures higher than 70°C during the fermentation process resulting in the loss of some of its superfood qualities. With raw cacao, fermentation and drying are replaced entirely with a dehydration process at temperatures lower than 50°C, preserving all health benefits!
The cacao nibs and pure chocolate paste we offer are made with dried cacao as shown in the following process:
Do you sell chocolate?
No. We sell the raw materials with which chocolate is made: cacao seeds and raw cacao powder! Cacao nibs and pure chocolate paste (cacao liquor) are also important materials in conventional chocolate making. In the future we hope to produce our own raw chocolate and are currently looking forward to the development of the necessary technology.
What are the health benefits eating of raw cacao?
Raw organic cacao is a superfood – a food with exceptionally high health benefits and nutrient density. It contains high amounts of antioxidants (16-19%), minerals -magnesium (124%), iron (77%) and potassium (43%)-, proteina (40%) and stimulants such as theobromine which naturally lowers blood pressure and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Raw cacao helps improve physical and mental conditioning and increases the body’s energy levels
Combined with the natural beneficial sugars present in the fruit pulp, pure cacao also assists in disease prevention and weight loss.
Which part of the cacao pod do you use in your products?
Most industrial cacao products on the market today, such as cocoa powder and chocolate, have had their pulp removed in the production method. This process degrades the cacao bean and eliminates the cacao butter, a healthy fat that adds richness and texture.
When making our dehydrated cacao products, we use the entire cacao beans, including the butter and pulp, resulting in a sweeter and richer result. We are very careful during harvesting and post-harvesting, selecting only the highest quality fruits.
What kind of cacao do you use? Is it organic?
While there are very few certified organic farms in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica, all of our cacao is sourced from local organic farmers, who grow their produce without the use of agrochemicals and with methods that protect the area’s biodiversity. The dominant farming system here is Rustic Agroforestry. This system ensures that cacao trees are scattered throughout the forests and are situated near other plants to encourage vegetal and animal biodiversity. Several varieties of cacao are grown here. To create our products we use a mix of “Matina” considered the national criollo cacao, and of hybrid and improved varieties introduced by CATIE to fight the moniliasis disease that affects cacao trees. During harvesting and post-harvesting, we are meticulous about selecting only the highest quality fruits.
To learn more about the varieties of cacao in Central America, check out the Cacao and Talamanca page, here!
If I love them as a snack, what is the recommended portion of dehydrated cacao seeds?
As with caffeine, every person’s reaction to the stimulant is different. We recommend starting off with 3 beans (3 grams) a day in the morning or early afternoon if. On the other hand, we recommended to start with more amounts (4 to 6 beans) when dealing with people with a lot of physical and mental activity on a daily basis. Definitely try it out and adjust the amount depending on your lifestyle and activity level!
What makes our products different?
Our products possess the unique flavor of the cacao that is produced in the agroforestal systems of Talamanca. The cacao itself is a cross between original varieties, hybrids, and improved varieties that were introduced more than 30 years ago (see the section on Talamanca and cacao). The plant also benefits from the conditions of the soil and the manner of cultivation. The resulting flavor of Talamanca cacao is very different from that of other parts of the world, with highlights of nuts, flowers, and fruits.
We offer two kinds of products – raw and semi-processed. Our raw cacao is available as seeds and as powder, both of which have undergone preparations that conserve the beneficial properties of raw cacao, such as the use of temperatures no higher than 50 degrees centigrade. We also offer products that have been partially processed in a way similar to chocolate. The cacao in the nibs and pure cacao bars has been husked, fermented, dried, and toasted. The cacao in the bars has also been ground. Because these products have been semi-processed, they may contain traces of other agricultural products.
We keep very little inventory in stock to ensure the best product quality and freshness. Just let us know the quantity you would like, and we will prepare it without little delay!
How we'll ship our products?
Talamanca is in the Southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica. It is a small town that enjoys a simple lifestyle, so there are not many options for shipment. We use the Costa Rica national postal service (https://correos.go.cr/) to ship our products but our systems cannot link. Therefore we must individually calculate the cost of shipping every order based on the products being shipped. For this reason, shipping our products is sometimes slower than expected by customers who are used to more advanced technology.