Cacao / Theobroma cacao
Native to South and Central America, and now grown throughout the world, Cacao is known for being the raw material of chocolate.
Revered as sacred for thousands of years by the ancient Mayan, Aztec and Olmec civilizations, Cacao was originally ground with other ingredients, whipped into a frothy drink and offered to royal guests and priests ceremonially.
Its botanical name, Theobroma, means ‘food of the gods’ and is derived from the Greek words theo meaning ‘food’ and broma meaning ‘of Gods’.
The word cacao itself comes from the Mayan word for the bean, Ka’kau, while the English word ‘chocolate’ derives from the Mayan verb Chocol’ha, or ‘to drink cacao’.
Cacao is a source of caffeine and is used to help:
- Increase mental alertness
- Relieve tiredness
The edible properties of Cacao were discovered over 2,000 years ago by the local people of Central America living deep in the tropical rainforests and they were thought to have eaten the fleshy fruit that grows around the bean rather than roasting the bean itself.