Details on how to use cacao, dosage, storage, side effects and usage during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Cacao info & Storage

What is Cacao?

Cacao is the fruit of the Theobroma Cacao tree. Theobroma means ‘Food of the Gods’. The cacao beans (technically these are the seeds) are packed with healthy nutrition and interesting compounds. When the fruits are harvested, the seeds are fermented and dried.

What is cacao paste?

Traditionally the dried cacao beans are lightly toasted and the husks/shells are removed for a clean product. When these beans are ground, the cacao butter releases from the cells and it becomes a liquid mass that is called cacao paste. The cacao paste can melt and dissolve into your drink (which beans or nibs cannot).

What is the difference with cacao powder?

Cacao powder is made by separating the cacao butter under high hydraulic pressure. The cacao butter is a valuable product, often used in skin care and chocolate. The remains are pulverized into cacao powder. This is often treated with an alkaline solution to neutralize its acidity which makes it easier to dissolve or to bake with. A pretty intensive process. This is why we use minimally processed 100% cacao paste which has all the natural ingredients in it, nothing is added and nothing extracted.

>> The natural combination in cacao (including the cacao butter!) has high nutritional value and enables your body to uptake the active components. This is why we leave the cacao intact as a whole food source so you can enjoy all its benefits in a pure form.

What is the difference between a block and flakes?

Basically it's just another form. When cacao is ground into a paste it can take any shape. Pouring it into a block shape is a nice and compact way. When preparing cacao, you need to cut it into smaller pieces to dissolve into your drink. The cacao flakes are the same cacao paste, but easier in use as you can use it directly to brew your drink. You can also cut up the block in one go and store it in a (glass) jar to make regular use easy. Some people prefer to cut the block as a way to connect with the cacao.

Is your cacao ceremonial grade?

Yes, all our cacao is ceremonial grade quality, grown on small natural farms. We personally visit the farms to directly source special quality cacao. Important to us are the people involved and that the cacao is grown in a natural organic way. This makes a unique 100% pure cacao without any additives or sugar.

We do not always mention that our cacao is ceremonial grade because we want to show how you can use this quality cacao in daily life in your own rituals or enjoy the benefits as a casual drink.

Is your cacao organic?

We source cacao directly from farms that use organic farming principles and agroforestry systems. The cacao is not certified organic as this is an expensive process and not accessible for small cacao farmers. Organic certification is a good step, but it should not stop there. We have bigger ambitions to support complex ecosystems and biodiversity.

How should I store cacao?

Cacao keeps best when stored cool and dry. Normally room temperature is perfect and it can stay good for years. Actually we never got to where it was not good anymore.

Sometimes the cacao can turn a little whitish as the cacao butter reforms at the surface. This is a natural process and the cacao is still good, it only looks less nice. If you melt it and let it harden out it looks like new again.

We don't advice to store cacao in the refrigerator, the cold is no problem, but water can condense, making it wet which is not good for keeping cacao.

If my cacao melts, can I still use it?

Yes. This can happen when you leave your cacao in the sun, in the car or when traveling and it's very warm. No problem! It can become a bit of a mess, but the cacao is still good. In your drink you will melt the cacao anyway.

Preparing Cacao and its Effects

Which cacao should I choose?

We sometimes get the question which cacao is our favourite, this is impossible to answer of course :-). All our cacao is high quality ceremonial grade which you can use for different purposes from your own ritual to more casually work, focus and creativity. The smaller 125gr bags make it easy to try out and compare which is your favourite in taste and feeling. On our shop page you can find more info in the descriptions. We enjoy both and like to switch between to what we feel like.  

How do I prepare a cacao drink

Traditionally cacao was consumed as a drink with a divine status. You can find different recipes and inspiration on our recipe page and of course experiment yourself. The key is to dissolve the pure cacao paste in hot water with optional spices and blend it into a frothy drink.

 15-20gr cacao

⬖ 150ml hot water (70°C is warm enough)

⬖ optional spices like chili, cinnamon and cardamom

>> blend into a frothy drink for the perfect serve

Which dose of cacao should I take?

This depends on your body and sensitivity. A bigger body in general means a bigger dose, depending on your goal. Most importantly is to listen to yourself to explore what is a good dose for you. You will get a better feeling of when to use how much cacao. There is no dangerous overdose known, but you want to avoid a headache. Drink enough water to hydrate yourself.

In general we advise: 10-25gr for a casual dose, 30gr as a small ceremonial dose and 42gr as a strong ceremonial dose.

You get the most benefits from cacao when using it regularly for a longer period of time. Some notice the subtle effect immediately, some recognize it after drinking cacao multiple times.  

Can I use cacao during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Yes, traditionally cacao is used by mothers around pregnancy to regain strength and positive energy after giving birth. The natural antidepressant effect of cacao can help against postnatal depression symptoms. In general a lower cacao dose is advised to feel how the baby responds (both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding). Cacao contains only a trace amount of caffeine, theobromine is responsible for the milder stimulating effect. Please ask your health practitioner if you have specific questions for your situation. 

Cacao butter is incredibly nutritious for skin care and used in Mayan culture by women. During breastfeeding it is also used on the nipples.

100% Cacao is too bitter for my taste, can I still enjoy its benefits?

For sure! You can sweeten your pure cacao drink (for example with honey, maple syrup or coconut blossom sugar) or make a drinking chocolate with plant-based milk (like oat, coconut or almond milk) which makes a delicious and more creamy drink. You can find more recipes on the recipe page. Other ideas to add are coconut oil, playing with the cacao-liquid ratio to make it thicker or less concentrated.

Cacao has complex flavours that are intense in a pure form, especially if it’s new to you. We often hear that people find cacao intense at first, but open up to it more when trying it for a few times (even after a few sips throughout one drink). Getting more familiar with natural tastes and pure cacao makes you aware how sweetened food and drinks in general are. Most importantly is to make something that you enjoy.  

Is cacao a good alternative to coffee?

Yes, we definitely think so and we get many positive feedback from people who replaced their coffee for cacao. The theobromine in cacao is a mild stimulant that last for longer than caffeine. It gives a softer and longer sustained focus and energy. Caffeine is an alkaloid that works on the nervous system and this can result in a more shaky, nervous energy. Theobromine has an effect on the cardiovascular system and increases your blood flow throughout the body and brain.

We also love a good quality coffee at its time! :-)

How often should I drink cacao?

It is very safe to drink cacao on a daily basis. We always advise to listen to your body and find what dose works best to you. In general we like to take some pauses once in a while if you drink cacao daily, to also feel and experience without.

Most benefits arise when using cacao on a regular basis, also nutrition wise. The effects of cacao are quite subtle, some notice it right away and some people recognise it more clear after using cacao for multiple times.

What are the active ingredients in cacao?

Cacao contains a high level of antioxidants, minerals, theobromine and has a modulating effect on your neurotransmitters. For more info on the ingredients of cacao you can check out the health benefits & effects page.

Does cacao contain caffeine?

In the lab you can find a trace amount of caffeine in cacao, but the active compound is 'theobromine'. This is an alkaloid that gives a softer energy than caffeine which lasts for longer and doesn't have the coffee-dip. Compared to cacao, caffeine has a more nervous energy. Our cacao is ceremonial grade and has a potent and clear effect. We often explain it as a soft and bright energy which expands the heart area.

More people are switching from coffee to cacao because they want to limit their caffeine intake and/or prefer the effect of cacao.

Does cacao contain sugar?

No, there is no sugar in cacao. All our cacao is 100% pure.

You can of course add sweetener in your cacao drink to your taste. We can advise honey, maple syrup, coconut blossom sugar or unrefined cane sugar.

As a comparison a kg of 70% chocolate blend contains 300gr sugar (the other 30%). We believe too much food is pre-sweetened and processed. You can always add sweetener to your taste, but not take it out :-).  

A delicious treat (for example during a diner) is per person: 10gr cacao, 50ml hot water, dash of maple syrup, cayenne, cinnamon or cardamom >> blend into a thick frothy drink and serve as a small energy booster.

Is cacao a psychedelic?

No, but you could describe cacao as psychoactive. Cacao does not create things/visions that are not there. But cacao has neurocognitive effects, enhances your mood, focus and creative flow. You can read more in our blog story about the active ingredients of cacao and how this works in a healthy balanced way.

Cacao works as a catalyst to go deeper into processes with a loving energy and heart opening effect. Although cacao is not psychedelic itself, it does strengthen the effect of psychedelic substances like magic mushrooms and cannabis. Shamans used to combine these in ceremonies.

Does cacao have side effects that I should know about?

To enjoy cacao as much as possible it’s good to keep the following in mind:

> A large dose of cacao can be heavy on your stomach, this depends on what you’ve eaten and how sensitive your belly is. Check for yourself what is a nice dose and listen to your body.

> Cacao is slightly dehydrating so it’s always advised to drink enough water to avoid a headache. This also improves detoxification processes of your body.

> If you’re taking MAOi/SSRI based antidepressants there can be a contraindication with cacao/chocolate. In this case a lower dose is advised. The MAOi in cacao can cause a headache and when this happens it's best to drink enough water. Cacao works as a natural antidepressant itself. 

Shipping & Returns

What are the shipping costs within the Netherlands?

Shipping within NL is €3,90 and free from €50,- orders.

What are the international shipping costs?

International shipping costs depend on your country and will show when you fill in your address at payment.

⬖ Belgium & Germany €7,- free from €75,- orders.

⬖ International (Europe) shipping is free from €150,- orders.

⬖ Contact us for worldwide shipping if your country cannot be selected. We can check the shipping costs and make a custom shipment.

How long is the NL delivery time?

When we hand over your cacao package to PostNL it takes 1-2 days for delivery. You receive a track & trace notification to follow your cacao package.

How long is the EU delivery time?

This depends on your location and in general is between 2 and 7 days. You receive a track & trace notification to follow your cacao package.

⬖ Belgium & Germany delivery time is 2-3 days.

Can I return my order?

If for whatever reason you want to return your order you can do so within 14 days. The cacao package must still be sealed, not melted and in good shape. We will check this and when everything is good we refund you the money! You will have to pay the shipping costs for the return.

My country cannot be selected as a shipping address, can I still order cacao?

Yes, please send us a message at info@purekakaw.com of what you want to order so we can check the shipping costs. We disabled some countries outside Europe because of higher shipping costs and possible custom taxes. Check out more about shipping in our Shipping Notes.  

How can I contact you?

You can contact us through the form on our contact page or drop us a line at info@purekakaw.com. Happy to hear from you!