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Ceremonial Grade Cacao

Raw cacao - a myth?

Does raw cacao really offer so much more for us and our health than other forms of conventional cacao?

Ist der Hype um das Superfood und seine zeremonielle Verwendung wirklich berechtigt? Und warum eigentlich der Name ‚Roher Kakao‘? Diese Fragen kamen auch in uns auf, als wir das erste Mal mit zeremoniellem Kakao in Kontakt kamen. Sie haben an dieser Stelle auch ihre volle Berechtigung – wir möchten für Transparenz sorgen, damit du dir dein eigenes Bild machen kannst.

To understand why there is a distinction between 'regular' and 'raw' cacao in the vernacular, let's first take a brief look at the cacao mass manufacturing process. After the cacao fruits have been harvested by hand, they are opened and the cacao seeds or beans are removed. They are then placed together with their pulp in large vessels for fermentation. The heat that prevails in the tropical growing regions, coupled with the high sugar content of the pulp, ensures that the mass ferments. The alcohol produced during this process prevents the seeds from germinating. This production step causes the beans to lose their bitterness and they acquire their classic, full cocoa aroma. In the next step, the beans are dried to preserve them. The most natural and energy-saving method here is to dry the beans directly under the sun's rays or in large, airy rooms.

Even up to this processing step, the cocoa beans are naturally exposed to heat. On the one hand, the fermented mass reaches temperatures of up to 50°C as a result of fermentation, and on the other hand, no upper temperature limit can be guaranteed during natural drying by the sun.

Many suppliers of ceremonial cacao state that it is raw and thus unroasted. This titling is intended to infer maximum preservation of nutrients and thus the highest possible health benefits. However, the designation of food as 'raw' is not legally protected and is therefore not subject to any specific requirements. In common parlance, the term 'raw food' refers to food that has not exceeded the 42-47°C margin. As can now be seen at this point, this promise cannot be kept for the usual cocoa mass production. This contradiction becomes even clearer with the subsequent production step, roasting.

Roasting the cacao, which involves temperatures of 100-150°C, creates new flavor compounds that give the cacao its familiar aroma and make it edible in the first place. It also ensures that microbial contamination of the cacao is reduced. An alternative procedure by which the germs can be killed is a sterilizing steam bath. If this procedure is chosen in order to be able to use the cacao without health risks, temperatures of over 100°C are also reached.

It is often read that heating the cacao above 47°C would result in a loss of its nutrients. These include the flavonoid epicatechin, which is said to have various positive health effects. Through our own research, we found that the amount of the flavonoid epicatechin decreases when heated above 70°C. The core temperature of epicatechin is the temperature at which it is most effective. However, reaching this core temperature is essential for the production of a cacao suitable for consumption, as described. Furthermore, we have come across several sources (1; 2) that demonstrate that the health benefits of cacao can even be enhanced by roasting (depending on temperature & duration) due to an increase in flavonoids. Ultimately, it is primarily the Dutching process that has been shown to reduce the levels of the flavonoids catechin and epicatechin to as low as 20%, and 2% respectively. This process is used in conventional cocoa products. However, we ensure minimal processing of the cacao, so this step is deliberately omitted.

Zusammenfassend lässt sich also sagen, dass der Begriff ‘Roher Kakao’ nicht darauf schließen lässt, dass seine Rohform bewahrt wurde. Bereits durch natürliche Temperatureinflüsse kann eine Kerntemperatur von maximal 47°C meist nicht eingehalten werden. Hinzu kommt, dass bei vielen ProduzentInnen oftmals die Transparenz im Produktionsprozess fehlt, um sichere Aussagen über die genauen Verarbeitungsschritte und -bedingungen treffen zu können.

Unlike in the mass industry, where strong heating of the cacao up to burning is not uncommon, our cacao beans are roasted gently, as the indigenous peoples of Central and South America have done since time immemorial.

Aus Liebe zur Umwelt empfehlen wir, Roher Kakao stets mit veganen Milchalternativen zuzubereiten. Des Weiteren weisen Forschungsergebnisse (siehe Serafini et al. 2003) darauf hin, dass Milch die Aufnahme der im Kakao enthaltenen Antioxidantien beeinträchtigen kann und somit potenzielle gesundheitliche Vorteile verringert oder unterbunden werden können.

Wir hoffen, durch diesen Beitrag ein wenig mehr Klarheit in die Roher Kakao-Thematik gebracht zu haben. Falls du über Forschungsprojekte oder Studien weißt, die unseren Wissensschatz in dieser Hinsicht erweitern könnten, freuen wir uns natürlich jederzeit über deine Kontaktaufnahme.

Unsere eigenen Rohkakaosorten:

Suyana Explorer Box



Payne, M.J., Hurst, W.J., Miller, K.B. et al. (2010): Impact of Fermentation, Drying, Roasting, and Dutch Processing on Epicatechin and Catechin Content of Cacao Beans and Cocoa Ingredients. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (58) 19. 10518–10527. DOI:

Penn State (2018): Cocoa bean roasting can preserve both chocolate health benefits, taste. ScienceDaily. Available here:

Serafini, M., Bugianesi, R., Maiani, G. et al. (2003): Plasma antioxidants from chocolate. Nature 424(1013). DOI:


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11th of August 2022

Hanna Krause

Reading time
4 minutes

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