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Jun 12, 2007 12:20 PM

Raw Cocoa Beans? (in food or just the ingredient)

I read an interesting article about raw food last night that mentioned shakes and blended concoctions using whole raw cocoa beans.

Has anyone encountered these in restaurants or stores? I'm guessing Cafe Gratitude might be a good place to start looking...

I'm excited about the raw food movement from the perspective of ingredient quality--there's no way to hide bad ingredients that I can think of if they're raw, so sources and handling is even more important.

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  1. hello, think of cacao in terms of coffee. With coffee, what you could regard as 'raw', called green or unroasted beans, has already been fairly extensively processed. Cocoa and coffee 'beans' are enclosed in fleshy fruits when they are harvested from their respective trees. If you really want the whole fresh cacao pods with the cocoa beans still within, direct your search accordingly (you might need to get to Mexico, Central/South America or farther). The coffee or cocoa beans have had the fruity part stripped away and they go through washing, fermenting, and drying, ending up as the unroasted(if this is your meaning of 'raw') beans. The processed and roasted cocoa beans (100 pct pure chocolate, no additives) are a versatile cooking/baking ingredient and can be found at the chocolate manufacturers like Guittard or Scharfenberger, the pure 'nibs' are available retail. Those manufacturers would likely sell you the unroasted beans too, which I have not seen retail. Have fun

    1. Cafe Gratitude does indeed use raw cacao in a number of dishes - "milk"shakes, smoothies, and dessert. They'll be able to tell you exactly how processed they are.

      For home use, I'd contact Sharfen Berger.

      I must say, many restaurants in the Bay Area are using impeccable ingredients on par with Gratitude, even if they do cook them.

      1. Rainbow Grocery carries all forms of them.

        1. I use raw chocolate nibs from a company called Navitas Naturals. My local gym has a raw (I'm not raw/vegan myself, but I don't mind eating their offerings) bar (Cafe Soulstice) and they sell it there. They did tell me that Whole Foods carries this product. Here is their website

          I like chocolate (especially dark), but this is not meant to be "consumed" as you would a chocolate is more like an ingredient. I like to mix mine in yogurts or sprinkle on top of vanilla ice cream. I bought it for the fiber/antioxidant factor, although its safe to say that I have "acquired" the taste for it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Cat Chow

            From what I understand of the raw food movement, nibs would not be considered raw, since they're the center of the cacao seed that's been roasted at temps of about 250-300F for .5-1 hour or so.

            Eating truly raw cacao (fresh fruit) is a fine idea, not that it tastes much like chocolate, but you won't find any in the continental US. Eating dried fermented cacao (the raw material that chocolate makers begin with) would not be such a great idea, IMO, since the product is a result of a composting process, and isn't sterilized at that stage.

            1. re: fqalzai

              Doh! I've been asleep ... I actually had what you are probably talking about. Brazilian places will have it. Sunstream on Geary near Mervyn's is a Brazilian cafe serving juices. Not sure about the cacoa.

              The place I actually had it was Sabor Brazil which has closed unfortuantely. Cocao juice is white, with a unique taste–buttery, tart, and tangy. It tastes a little like lychees, and a little like passion-fruit.

              The thing is in the US what you might be getting, even at Cafe Gratitude is frozen cocoa fruit. The only place I can think of that might have it is Supermercado Brasileiro in San Mateo. Here's a link to the other Bay Area Brazilian markets, but most are small carrying only dry and canned goods.

              So maybe the closest you will get is raw frozen cocoa fruit ... which might defeat your objective. That's what Sabor Brazil used. They'd get the fruit from the freezer and blend it up.

              1. re: fqalzai

                Hi fgalzai, as the Navitas website states: "All our raw Cacao products are processed at temperatures below 118 degrees Fahrenheit" so it sounds like it complies with the raw approach/thory. I'm not raw myself, just like to eat it once a while, so I guess I would not be too hung up if it wasn't "raw". But the lady who runs the place is a raw teacher so I'm sure she would not sell something that ran counter to her philosophy.

                and you are right, eating the actual "raw" product (that is eating from a cacao pod) may not be a great idea....