What you need to know about cacao for "ceremonial" use

In recent years, movements related to holistic and spiritual disciplines have rediscovered the medicinal use of cacao, recognizing its status as a "planta de poder" (plant of power).

Our version consists of pure artisanal cacao paste, obtained through a stone-pressing process of cacao seeds, or cacao beans, after they have been carefully cleaned from their husk and lightly roasted. Our interpretation draws inspiration from pre-Columbian Mesoamerican beverages and is created to be used both for spiritual introspection and as a functional food with numerous properties.

However, it's important for us to emphasize that, at the moment, there is no legal definition of how one can identify "ceremonial cacao," just as there was none in ancient times for a specific "cacao ceremony." It was more a combination of various rituals and beliefs linked to elements and different deities.

We can affirm that the nutritious and frothy cacao beverages prepared in Mesoamerica before the Spanish invasion by Hernán Cortés and Pedro de Alvarado in 1500 AD were made by toasting and grinding cacao between stones, a household tool known as a "metate." From grinding, cacao paste was obtained through the constant friction of two stones, yielding a raw and lumpy paste. This was then mixed with other foods and water, to be consumed during ritual functions and important occasions in major Mesoamerican civilizations. Relevant information can be found in the book "La Historia Universal de las Cosas de Nueva España" and the "Codice Fiorentino," the only Spanish-Nahuatl bilingual collection. In this book, Bernardino de Sahagún, a Spanish friar, wrote testimonies of Mesoamerican native peoples about two hundred years after the invasion, discussing cacao and its importance in ritualistic and spiritual functions.


The cacao paste processing is entirely done in-house by us. We create artisanal cacao paste with a raw consistency, obtained by pressing cacao seeds with a stone mill.

We work with cacao from our Cuyancùa plantation in El Salvador and from other cacaotales and cooperatives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica, countries that were once part of Mesoamerica. This close collaboration allows us to guarantee uniqueness, quality, and complete traceability. The exact origin of the cacao is always indicated on each of our packages for absolute transparency.

It's essential that cacao adheres to strict traceability criteria, going beyond just identifying the country of origin, allowing detailed knowledge of the place and cultivation method. Cacao cultivation must respect ethical principles, including fair compensation for growers and competent and professional agricultural practices in agroforestry environments that promote harmony between people and biodiversity. Additionally, the processing method must follow artisanal methods known for their delicacy and slowness. Sustainability is a fundamental requirement. Cacao must be grown in harmony with the nature and biodiversity of the location where it grows. This means avoiding large plantations and monocultures that threaten biodiversity, a common issue in some regions of Africa and South America.

Industrial cacao pastes, often produced in large quantities, are not designed for spiritual introspection purposes or to serve as natural medicine. These products employ much more invasive processes and use poor-quality raw materials, often of dubious origin and with a high human and environmental cost.

The energy of cacao is more intense when it grows in a healthy environment, and when the people involved in every stage of the process feel a deep connection with the plant itself. We strive to promote this connection with the land as part of our mission as a short and ethical supply chain project.

Mesoamerica: Origin, Territory, Culture

For millennia, in what is defined as Mesoamerica (Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, part of Costa Rica, and part of northern Nicaragua), pure cacao was used as a beverage and held a special place in everyone's hearts because it was also considered part of the sacred in various worldviews.

Even today, cacao remains a sacred and special element for the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, despite having suffered the loss of many traditions and uses during the colonial period. During that period, indigenous communities were marginalized and often suppressed, with the prohibition of the practice of their ancestral language and culture. However, despite historical challenges, cacao remains a symbol of resilience and an important part of the cultural heritage of these peoples.

According to scholars (although very little is known about the use of cacao in antiquity), cacao was present during the ceremonies of the noble classes of the main Mesoamerican civilizations over the millennia (in completely different historical periods, of course). Among these peoples are the ancient Olmecs, ancient Maya, Toltecs, Mexica, and Aztecs, who took care to select cacao seeds to make nutritious frothy cacao drinks, often combined with maize and achiote (annatto in Italian), which gave a vibrant red color to symbolize the blood of human sacrifices to numerous deities.

Corn was also considered "sacred" for these populations. It represented their main source of sustenance, and its use was so widespread that cacao and maize were an excellent combination: a real nourishing meal.

However, the ancient Maya and other Mesoamerican peoples mainly reserved the consumption of cacao for the noble classes, including religious figures, emperors, nobles, and warriors. There is not even absolute certainty that cacao was exclusively an elitist beverage. In fact, in rural Maya communities, it is likely that the population consumed some drinks prepared with water, cacao, maize, and achiote, as evidenced by findings in the ruins of Joya del Cerén, located in our region, El Salvador, in the post-classic period.

Although the details of cacao consumption by these populations are not precisely known, it is evident that cacao played an extremely significant role both as a high-value commercial product and as a precious culinary ingredient. Additionally, cacao possessed remarkable medicinal properties, which were certainly known to these ancient civilizations and may have had profound spiritual significance in the practices conducted by their spiritual leaders.

Possible Responses to the Fact that Cacao Has Positive Effects on Our Mental and Physical Health

Cacao is known to contain some chemicals associated with well-being, including anandamide, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine, often referred to as "Bliss chemicals." Anandamide, in particular, is an endocannabinoid that has been associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.

Furthermore, cacao is a source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our body uses for serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in mood and sleep regulation. This may help explain why cacao is often associated with a feeling of comfort and pleasure.

Consuming pure cacao can be a healthy alternative to morning coffee or a beneficial addition to our daily diet, offering both mental and physical health benefits.

However, it's important to do so in moderation and choose high-quality cacao to maximize potential benefits.

Learn more about the history of cacao and its connection to Mesoamerica