Cacao, Kakawa, Chocolatl, Chocolate & Kakao

Where does the word cacao come from?

Where does the word cacao come from?

More than 3,500 years ago, cacao was cultivated by the Olmec. About 1,000 years later, the Mayas also discovered this miracle plant for themselves. After all, the Aztecs were the ones who used the word xocolatl to designate a drink. The exact translation here is "bitter water" (xócoc = bitter and atl = water). Originally, the cacao drink was not sweet, but a bitter drink with a strong effect. Only the Spaniards prepared a sweet chocolate. There are also records in the most important Indian language in Central America, the Nahutal. Here, the cacao bean is called kakawa-kwawatl, or kakawa for short.

The Spaniards learned about the drink made from cacao from the Mayans, who called it "chocol haa" = hot chocolate water. hot) was combined with the Aztec word "atl" (water). This is how the word "chocolatl" came about first. The ending in "tl" is normal for the language of the Aztecs. The Spaniards, on the other hand, could not or did not want the "tl" correctly pronounce it and so "chocolatl" finally became "chocolate".

The spelling cacao we know is best seen in Central American Nahuatl, where it was originally called kakawatl or cacauatl. Nahuatl, also known as Aztec, was the language of the Aztecs. Tlaxcaltec and Toltec is spoken today by around 1.5 million people, mainly in Mexico.

Cacao, the food of the gods

Cacao has long been used as a currency and for religious rituals. Only the privileged were allowed to enjoy this dish. In this context, the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné gave the cacao tree the Latin name "food of the gods" (Theobroma - Theos for God and Broma for food). Theobromine is also an ingredient in cacao, which is responsible for the invigorating effect.

For a long time, the imported cacao bean was also a luxury item in Europe. In the 19th century you could buy chocolate in pharmacies as medicine.

Almost forgot the original form of cacao

Due to the great popularity of chocolate and its commercialization over the last 200 years, the original form of cacao has almost been forgotten. Pretty much all of the healthy stuff is removed from cacao to make chocolate less bitter. 80-99% of the active substances are therefore missing in commercially available chocolate. Even if you buy 'Fairtrade organic cacao', this is mostly from cultivated and hybridised varieties.

I think these explanations show that what we understand by cacao is something completely different than the chocolate that you can normally buy. Of course, our Cacao ritual has nothing to do with Kaba either. This is simply a cacao mixed drink with a lot of sugar and little cacao. The little cacao that is included here is cacao powder (the cacao butter has been extracted).

Ritual Cacao consists of 100% cacao mass from a pure variety (especially Criollo), which has been processed gently. Find out more about our Criollo Blanco and where it comes from.

What does raw cacao mean?

Many people also wonder if Ritual Cacao has to be "raw". Here for the first time in advance: what is actually meant by raw? Foods that have not been heated above 42 degrees throughout their processing may be described as raw.

In our opinion, a gentle processing method with not too much heat is important. We dare to doubt whether this has to be exactly 42 degrees to ensure good quality. Nevertheless, a large cult has developed around this topic and other names were introduced to distinguish raw cacao from "normal" cacao. This is how the word Cacao came about. It is the name for (fermented and dried) cacao beans and is also used for products made from them, such as cacao powder (cacao powder), cacao butter (cacao butter). For example, the word cacao is used by some for processed cacao and the word "cacao" for raw cacao. However, since this is not really correct and many people do not make this linguistic difference, we recommend checking directly where the cacao comes from and how much can be seen about the processing.

With our spelling "Ritual Cacao" we want to clearly differentiate ourselves from all the mass-produced cacao products. At the same time, we chose a spelling that suits our modern times. It is very clear to us that Ritual Cacao with "C" stands for high-quality cacao with an extra portion of heart opening.

pink turquoise mandala

Do you have a topic request or would you like to write an article for the Cacao Blog yourself? Write us!