How Pure Kakaw started 5 years ago

Sep 14, 22

How Pure Kakaw started 5 years ago

Traditional cacao drinks touched our hearts deeply during our Central and South America travels. Pure Kakaw took form through reconnecting with nature and enjoying the gifts it brings. It feels like it took us on a journey and we first started sharing cacao with friends and family after we wanted to enjoy it in our daily lives.

On 16 September 2017, Leonie found herself on the Amazon river bank,

Amazon River Bed

waiting for a tiny boat to turn up at the horizon. Erik would pick her up, she had no idea from which side he would come. There was nothing marking this spot. Just a big loud jungle on one side, and a silent large Amazon river on the other. Eventually, a soft roaring boat approached and Erik appeared with a big smile on his face.

Erik quit his job 9 months before and left with a one-way ticket.

He was curious to discover different ways of living and working. He had an interest in plant medicine and the interaction between plants, the body and the mind. Early in his journey, he was surprised by the gentle but profound effect of cacao.

Erik first encountered cacao in Panama. A few months later, he lived in an off grid community in Nicaragua - called InanItah - where he connected with cacao more and more. During various meditations he felt the energy of this plant medicine and had visions of working with it.

Cacao disc Sun and Moon

We hadn’t seen each other for five months.

To surprise Leonie, Erik brought a beautiful sun/moon cacao block (made at El Pital, on Ometepe) with him to the Amazon.

Leonie: ‘We had a daily cacao ritual'.

After our work was done, we took a moment to prepare our favorite recipe and sat down to connect. Surrounded by the sounds of the jungle and funny bird songs - we talked and reconnected. It was quite a challenging week for me - not knowing exactly what I felt for Erik after all this time. During this week, I realized how cacao supported us by its effect. It felt like the cacao moments gave us a supportive loving embrace. I felt a certain acceptance of whatever I felt and this made it possible to truly connect with Erik.’

How cacao mesmerized us

Cacao touched us deeply in these first encounters. Cacao surprised us in many ways: 

  • It has a subtle and profound effect - it supports a positive mindset, heartwarming feeling and fresh energy 
  • It is deeply nourishing for our bodies - as a known superfood, cacao has high nutritional value 
  • It supports a heartfelt connection with yourself and others 
  • It is absolutely delicious! It has a rich flavor and soft creamy structure 
  • Ancient cultures already knew cacao was a gift of nature - it was a highly revered drink by a.o. the Maya and Aztec communities

We couldn’t believe that we didn’t learn about this before! There’s a whole world to discover when it comes to pure cacao. We couldn’t wait to share this with our friends & family at home. And we even fantasized about a cacao bar (which turned into reality exactly one year later!).

Cacao Bar illustration in the Amazon

Back in the Netherlands

We could not find fine quality cacao for traditional cacao drinks. And we noticed that the origin of cacao was often unknown. We wanted to do something about this. 

When we lived in Nicaragua a few months later, we set off to find farms that shared our vision. Farms that support their people and nature. Farms that regenerate the soil with cacao food forests and create a high quality cacao product. With a motorbike we drove to the Matagalpa region where we planned some meetings and farm visits. From there, it was a whole journey of exploration, tasting, visioning, and finding a way - step-by-step - to bring our first cacao product home. It feels like cacao took us on a beautiful journey ever since we first got to know it in its pure form.

In the first years of Pure Kakaw, we spent a lot of time telling the story of cacao, shared cacao drinks at different festivals and offered events like Cacao Meditation & Yoga. After a year we opened our first Cacao Bar at Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam. In the beginning, it was very important to explain what cacao actually is. The most common question we got was “so is this a kind of chocolate milk?”. If you ever tasted cacao in its pure powerful form, you can imagine it is quite a surprise if you expect sweet chocolate milk ;-).

Looking back, we see a big change of people becoming more familiar with traditional cacao drinks. More and more people care about knowing the source of their cacao products, and choose a quality product that supports the people and nature connected to it. 

If you have followed our adventures since, then you may know we continued our travels to other cacao origins. In 2017 we started sourcing cacao from Guatemala and in 2020 from Peru. Looking back to this whole cacao adventure really fills our hearts with joy. Especially combined with all the fantastic responses and connections that we got over the years. Thank you so much for enjoying cacao, supporting us and thereby supporting these beautiful farms! We will keep on doing our best to source special quality cacaos directly from the farm to you!