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How to Prepare a Ceremonial Cacao Drink

The two most important components to a successful cacao ceremony are the quality of the cacao and the intention that you come to the ceremony with.

In this short article you’ll learn:

  • How to prepare ceremonial cacao to get the best ceremony experience
  • Four tips to maximize your experience (and avoid common pitfalls)
  • What to expect during a successful cacao ceremony

An Introduction to Ceremonial Cacao

When prepared and consumed correctly as part of ceremony, cacao can profoundly open us to our hearts. The benefits of living with greater awareness of the heart are many, including greater access to love, abundance & connection.
Unlocking the Benefits of Ceremonial Cacao

Unlocking the Benefits of Ceremonial Cacao

Many of us benefit from this conscious re-connection with our hearts on a regular basis. And cacao ceremony is a powerful and enjoyable (and tasty) way to do that. The problem is, very few people know how to properly prepare and consume cacao in order to receive the full benefits. And unfortunately, as a result, too many people aren’t even aware of the benefits or wrongly believe that the benefits are weak or non-existent. Which simply is not true. The benefits are big and beautiful and true.

Everyone Can Benefit from Proper Preparation

Everyone Can Benefit from Proper Preparation

If you’ve tried cacao in the past and you didn’t feel anything or if you had a lackluster experience…or if you’re new to cacao ceremony and want to do it right from the start, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll tell you what you need to know to get the greatest experience possible.

Ceremonial cacao is the real deal. But like all relationships, you’ve got to come to it with the right understanding and approach in order to unlock the benefits. You need the right information to ensure that you do everything correctly to get access to the great benefits of cacao ceremony.

Start with Quality

The two most important components to a successful cacao ceremony are the quality of the cacao and the intention that you come to the ceremony with. You don’t want to skimp on either of these components.

Before giving you my personal, proven recipe, I’d like to take a moment to give you some tips regarding what constitutes high quality cacao suitable for a successful cacao ceremony.

Admittedly, I’m highly partial to our Heartblood Ceremonial Grade Cacao. I do truly believe that it is the best quality cacao you can find. And the reason is that it is not only the highest quality from an empirical standpoint – highest purity, grown under best conditions, and handled and processed according to our standards – it also is some of the only cacao that I know of that is also the highest quality energetically. That energetic quality matters to ceremony because the cacao carries the energies of the way it has been produced. And our cacao is always handled with the greatest respect. It is grown on a single family farm and produced in small batches. We also ship every order ourselves personally.

When you buy Heartblood Ceremonial Grade Cacao, you are assured that you are receiving the best quality cacao available. If you don’t already have cacao for your ceremony, I encourage you to purchase yours from our store here:
However, if you are wanting to know if the cacao that you already have or that you can buy locally meets the criteria for ceremonial cacao, here are some tips:
  • The cacao should be whole cacao – not defatted powder that is typically sold commercially. Learn about the difference between cacao & cocoa powder here
  • The cacao should NOT be alkalized or Dutch processed. Those processes (which are commonly used for chocolate bars and candies) make cacao unsuitable for cacao ceremony. You will not receive the benefits of cacao from a ceremony performed using alkalized or Dutch process cacao.
  • The cacao should be 100% cacao or it should tell you the percentage of cacao it contains. This is important because you need to be able to calculate the total cacao you include per ceremonial drink.
Although cacao produced specifically for ceremony (such as ours) will typically result in the best experience, if you aren’t ready to purchase ceremonial grade cacao just yet, you can use any cacao that meets the criteria I’ve just provided for your ceremony.This recipe is specifically for ceremony, so it is a larger dose of cacao.

A Cacao Ceremony

Assemble The Ingredients

  • 7 fluid ounces of water per person
  • 2 oz (6 tablespoons) cacao per person. If you are using a scale, you can weigh 2 oz per person. If you aren’t using a scale, 2 oz of cacao is about 6 tablespoons of chopped cacao.
  • Pinch of chilli/cayenne
  • Natural sweetener of your choice such as honey, agave syrup, cane sugar, etc. to taste. This is optional. It is not necessary to sweeten the cacao drink to benefit from the cacao in ceremony. But most people will find the drink more enjoyable this way
  • Optionally, add cinnamon, cardamom, and/or vanilla to taste

Now, here's how to make the drink:

  • Start with the cacao bar and chop with a knife into smaller pieces so it softens easily in hot water.
  • Heat water with chili to just before a boil. It should be just too hot to the touch but not boiling
  • Add the cacao shavings
  • Add sweetening and spices to taste
  • Use a whisk to stir the brew until it's all the chunks are blended and you get a frothy top
  • It’s helpful to have a spoon or stirring stick to keep the consistency even as you consume. The cacao will settle at the bottom over time.
  • Serve hot & enjoy!
A Cacao Ceremony
We recommend the chilli/cayenne spice as it helps potentiate the cacao but it's possible to have a successful ceremony without it.

Four Tips to maximize your experience (and avoid common pitfalls)

Until people are familiar with cacao ceremony, they may make some common mistakes that can reduce the effectiveness or result in unwanted effects.

Below are four tips to help you avoid these common mistakes.

  • If you are new to drinking cacao, I highly recommend that you drink no more than 2/3 of a 2 oz ceremonial dose to begin. Wait about 45 minutes, then gauge how you feel. If you notice absolutely no stomach queasiness, you may proceed to drink the remainder. Most people aren’t accustomed to consuming so much cacao all at once. Therefore, before you do, try going a bit more slowly to avoid possible discomfort later on.
  • Don’t mix your cacao with cow's milk (or soy). Many of us Westerners are accustomed to hot chocolate, chocolate milk, or milk chocolate that it seems natural to mix the cacao with milk or soy milk for that creaminess we’re accustomed to. But don’t do this! Milk and soy interfere with the absorption of the cacao, and that can dampen the effects. If you feel that you need some kind of added “milk”, consider coconut milk, which shouldn’t interfere with absorption as do milk and soy.
  • Eat lightly prior to consuming your ceremonial cacao drink. This will allow the cacao to absorb more fully and not dampen the effects. No need to fast, just don't drink it on a full stomach. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water as you go and then eat dense foods at the end to ground the energy.
  • Cacao, being the strong bitter it is, can stimulate the liver to detox. It is mildly laxative in higher doses. Those needing dietary detox or those on a clean or raw diet, take less the first time and see how it feels. Some folks may get nausea or mild headache 5-6 hours later even going slowly, so consider going easy at first.

What to Expect

What to Expect

Most people will feel the cacao within 20-30 minutes. There is usually a strong focus of energy around the heart and an expansive feeling. Focus is easier. You will have more blood flowing to your brain with our cacao. Meditation, yoga, kirtan, sound healing and many other practices will flow more ease-fully. Creativity and inspiration comes easily. Deepest effects will last 3 to 5 hours, depending on focus of attention.

Make sure to drink plenty of water and afterwards eat dense foods to help ground the energy!

Now here are your next steps:

  • If you don’t already have ceremonial grade cacao (or if you want to upgrade to the world’s best), purchase yours here: Ceremonial Grade Cacao
  • Read our post on How to Have Your Own Cacao Ceremony
  • Once you've experienced cacao ceremony for yourself, if you want to learn more about this amazing practice and what it can do for you and others, learn more about our signature cacao ceremony training, Into the Heart

Moses Draper, Co-Founder Heartblood Cacao

Moses Draper, Co-Founder Heartblood Cacao

I've been working with cacao for over a decade and am passionate about sharing the love & beauty that is possible with this medicine.