The fermented and fully dried seed from the tree Theabroma cacao is the base for what we all think of as chocolate. First cultivated
in the Americas by the Olmecs by 1500 BCE, the seeds of the fruit bearing pods that are dried and roasted to create so many delicious culinary delights was a big hit when it hit Europe.
Within a hundred years of introduction to Europe by the Spanish, Cacao plants were being transported and cultivated wherever Europeans had colonies, from the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines to Asia and Africa. Over the las 30 years, cacao has averaged a steady growth as a commodity- with world production nearly doubling since 1970 to well over 3 million tons.
Here at B. Fuller’s, we think Cacao is just great! It appeared in one of our first blends, Kava Koko and was an immediate hit with customers. The Cacao nibs release the lovely, fatty flavors into the infusion- balancing the bright mint and deep, earthy notes of the Kava root. We loved the way the fatty oils of the cacao nibs seemed to help insulate the peppermint leaves from over-steeping.
We also use cacao nibs in our Loving Cup blend. Along with Vanilla beans, the cacao creates a rich mouth feel. Since the oils from both the Vanilla and Cacao float on top of the water of the infusion, they slide along the vessel you use for drinking and coat our palate as you drink, causing a velvety smoothness to enrich your experience.
Our third Winter Blend, Melange
, uses Cacao that we roast with hot Cayenne pepper to create a spicy, rich flavor. The oils of the heating nibs bond to the bright red powder, which ensures that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the blend.
The health benefits of Cacao nibs have long been noticed and studied. Cacao is high in flavonoids, which have consistently been shown to help in vascular health. Specifically, numerous studies have shown marked improvement in heart health and lower blood pressure resulting from people including diets rich in Cacao and cacao derived products (like chocolate).
B. Fuller’s prefers, of course, to experience plants and their fruits in as pure a form as possible, so we use organic cacao from Theo Chocolate for our blends. The alkalizing process that results in improved solubility (“Dutching”) may mean stronger flavor in the cup, but the cooking, pressing and extraction of the fat solids in that process also destroys the flavonoids. We will take a more subtle, clearer flavor that includes deeper therapeutic benefits every time over processing that “improves” taste at the expense of plant essence.
Because of the rich, deep and full flavor that is extracted from Cacao inour blends, we tend to use them in the Fall and Winter- but watch here, the sweet tooth might bite us as we experiment with our summer carbonated tea and tisane sodas and phosphates!