Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On The List: Cacao Beans (And The Best Iced Mocha, Ever)

Cacao beans are just so improbable. Take a look at those smooth brown pods, and the last thing you would think is, 'oh,, they can be transformed into a delicious chocolate treat.' Visually, they are ho hum at best - like tan tear drops. As far as taste, lets say that eating them in the raw is about as tasty as chomping on an evergreen. These things are bitter. Chalky. Get this thing out of my mouth bad.

And yet they feel so good. I had heard many claims that they are full of anti-oxidents and provide an incredible energy boost. When I can stomach them, this has been all true, but the upfront costs are high and, well, yucky. There had to be a better way to get my kicks.

Enter iced coffee. Is there anything more summer than a glass of iced coffee? Yeah, there's the fruit and the warm breezes and all that jazz, but at the end of the day, at least for me, iced coffee is the pause that refreshes. And mocha, well that is just heaven on earth. Now imagine a mocha that sources caffeine from the cacao beans, and not just the coffee. One with tremendous health and nutritional content. Fewer headaches, less cravings, just an energy boost and tasty drink. I started to experiment with the two and came up with the below recipe. It bookends as a great way to start the morning and then later at end the day as a cocktail.

A few quick tips on this recipe:
  • Like your mocha STRONG? Double brew this brew. Complete the recipe, then pour it back in the machine and re-filter the whole thing. Do not expect to sleep for a while.
  • You can make this with 100% ground cacao beans. It tastes like very light brown chocolate water. Add some cayenne and you have a real boost, but this is an acquired taste.
  • For cocktails, add 2 - 4 tbsp vodka, chocolate liquor, Baileys, or Sambucca.
Cacao is the basis for all things chocolate. It is fermented, dried, roasted, tread upon (by human feet more often than not), and treated before becoming Godiva. The beans are the purest state of chocolate, and therefore highly touted by the raw crowds and chocoholics everywhere. Often, it makes it way to the super foods list because of its antioxidents and high vitamin and mineral contents. Grown largely in the tropics of South America and West Africa, from which fair trade and organic beans are available, cacao is poised to be one hot commodity, the next latest thing.

You can find raw cacao beans in your local health food stores, but I like to buy them online, as they seem fresher, especially from places that sell them in bulk like nutsonline. They are a bit pricey, but last for a long time and are very efficient, especially when ground.

Enjoy, and please comment below on your experiences with cacao, coffee, and cocktails.

Iced Mocha Coffee
3 tbsp finely ground raw cacao beans
6 tbsp ground, decaf coffee
48 oz (8 cups on the coffee machine) fresh, cold water

  1. Mix the cacao and coffee grinds together
  2. Add grinds to your coffee machine.
  3. Add water. Brew.
  4. Fill a pitcher with ice. Pour hot coffee in the pitcher over the ice and allow to chill. Add more ice if necessary.
  5. Serve with cream and sugar/simple syrup.

Serves 6

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