CACOCO: A Chocolate Revival
Feb. 14, 2018
Meet Liam Blackmon (left) and Tony Portugal (right), two friends and naturalists with backgrounds in traditional food systems and sustainable business on a mission to change the way the world grows, sources, and enjoys chocolate.
Chocolate is one of the most universally-loved foods, and is literally translated as “the food of the gods.” To the Mayans and Aztecs, it was worth its weight in gold. For centuries, chocolate has been a gathering point, a way to commune together, share, love, and even worship.
Global chocolate consumption is increasing, yet the current production system is broken.
Most cacao in the world is unethically farmed--it uses conventional farming methods that poison the water table and deplete the soil, forcing farmers to cut further into the rainforest canopy. Additionally, many cacao farmers are paid less than a living wage and frequently work in slave-like conditions.
After harvest, cacao is typically exported to global candymakers, where it is mixed with an overwhelming amount of high-glycemic, refined sugar, fillers and is then packaged in plastic, which ultimately ends up in the landfill.
Three years ago Blackmon and Portugal embarked on a mission to fix the broken system of modern chocolate production. Their goal is for people to enjoy chocolate as it’s meant to be experienced.
In the minds of most modern Westerners, chocolate is anything but a health food. This is largely because many of us primarily consume chocolate in the form of standard supermarket candy bars.
However, in reality, the cacao bean is one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods: as a whole bean, it has a higher antioxidant value than nearly any other food. Cacao is also loaded with healthy fats, protein, minerals, and a full range of phytonutrients and chemicals that give chocolate its beloved mood-boosting properties.
Chocolate as it is meant to be is inherently uplifting and nourishing, and also acts as the perfect delivery system for beneficial herbs and spices. This is due to theobromine, a vasodilator that opens up blood flow to the heart and delivers medicine in the most perfect way possible.
CACOCO honors the ancient tradition of preparing cacao as a molten chocolate vitality elixir, which is why their products are born of heirloom cacao sourced from beyond-organic, regenerative farms in Ecuador. These farms not only improve the health of the environment but produce a chocolate that showcases the finer nuances of well maintained soil and highlight the terroir of the region.
CACOCO envisions a world in which natural ecosystems are managed intelligently and resources are utilized respectfully. In order to achieve this, they work exclusively with sustainable, organic, regenerative cacao farms that enliven the soil, increase biodiversity, and preserve the rainforest. You can find out more about how they accomplish this by visiting the website of one of their main collaborators, Terra Genesis International (TGI).
It is a sad truth that most cacao farmers are paid less than a living wage and that many work in slave-like conditions. CACOCO takes a firm stand against such practices by only sourcing from producers who treat their workers with the utmost integrity and enrich the lives of the communities who work on their farms. For more information on the very real, very controversial topic of sourcing slavery-free cacao, please visit the Food Empowerment Project's Chcolate List.
Once the organic, fair-trade, ethically sourced cacao is ready, it is shipped from Ecuador to Santa Cruz. It is in this California beach town that the wholesome, raw ingredients are mixed with love by expert hands to become the final, decadent superfood that is CACOCO. The Santa Cruz production team is a tightly knit community of makers who have been working together to make the CACOCO dream a reality for over three years.
CACOCO takes their commitment to the health of the planet a step further with their eco-friendly packaging, which is made with 100% recycled paper and printed with vegetable ink. Their unique pyramid-shaped box (as well as the clear packaging inside) are certified compostable and entirely glue-free. (That’s right! It is held together with the power of origami.) CACOCO packaging is specifically designed to end up in your compost, not the landfill.
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In keeping with the communal tradition of chocolate, CACOCO is centered around bringing people together. So gather your tribe, raise your cups, and revel in chocolate as it’s meant to be. CACOCO welcomes you to the chocolate revival!