Cocoa is the fermented dried bean of the Cacao Theobromia tree, the ‘Food of the Gods.’ According to the Aztecs and Maya.
There are around 40-50 beans in each large ripe pod, that unusually grows directly on the trunk of this native Amazonian Valley tree. The beans contain about 50% cocoa butter, the rest are cocoa solids. The Theobromine and caffeine are responsible for it’s stimulant effect although less than coffee. It’s reputation of aphrodisiac properties, may come from its ability to replicate the feeling of being in love due to its Phenlethylamine PEA content.
The beans have been processed by ancient civilisations into cocoa powder and cocoa butter as far back as 1500 BC.. They are extracted from the opened pod with the pulp and laid out to sweat, ferment and dry. This is a critical process for the final taste of the chocolate. The liquor from the pulp can be fermented into an alcoholic beverage.
After drying in the sun the seeds are roasted and ground and sugar, etc. is added to make the chocolate we know and love, around 400 beans to make 1lb.
The Cacao is tricky to grow outside of its cultivated habitats. The pods need to be freshly picked. The bean will not germinate even if slightly dry, it needs a moist warm shady environment like under the canopy of the rain forest and is even known to germinate in the cracked open pod.
The health benefits are many and it is highly regarded as the number one superfood, due to its very high content of antioxidants, polyphenols-Catechins- flavanoids and numerous others. These compounds are well known to reduce Cancer rates and lower LDL Cholesterol with significant effects on the heart and circulation.
It reduces BP, Strokes, Heart attacks and blood clots. Arguably more than any pill. It also significantly increases Dopamine and Serotonin in the brain to improve mood and wellbeing.
So we have been inspired to make our hot chocolate coffee beverage for ‘double protection’, which you can drink when you need a pick-me-up. Its easy just 2 teaspoons of high quality cocoa powder, 70% will do, into a coffee mug or cup, pour on your freshly made filtered coffee as you like it, Instant coffee is a no no as it neutralizes the antioxidant effects, stir gently with indulgent anticipation, and thats it! Ummm.
You can add cream or whipped milk, but this defeats the chloesterol lowering effects. Keep the chocolate in an airtight container somewhere cool and dark, the refrigerator is only for when it’s really hot outside. You can buy dark tempered chocolate and blitz it into powder after freezing, instead of the ready made expensive variety, like Whittard’s of Chelsea. Enjoy!