February Love Frequency

Ethical Cacao Sourcing

Who doesn’t love chocolate!? The scientific benefits of eating cacao are numerous: flavonoids inherent in the beans may reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels, the high level of antioxidants has the ability to reduce cell damage from heart disease; polyphenols may assist with insulin sensitivity to help reduce blood sugar preventing the onset of diabetes; and the mood-boosting properties that stimulate endorphins like phenethylamine and tryptophan, which has shown to increase serotonin production! 🙂

However, it’s important to remember that not all cacao is harvested ethically. Even though companies often have a fair trade certification, the lack of transparency within the supply chain is shocking.

Due to the demand for cheap cacao, farmers along the ivory coast earn less than $2 per day, and as a result, they often resort to the use of child labor to keep their prices competitive. A report produced by the Research Institute NORC in Chicago in late November 2020, says the proportion of children between the ages of 5 and 17 who work on cocoa farms, has increased from 31% to 45%. These children work in very dangerous conditions, using sharp machetes, and are exposed to lots of toxic chemicals and pesticide spraying.

Due to the rising consumer concern over child labor, The World Cocoa Foundation, whose 100 member companies comprise about 80% of the industry, said it aims to have its anti-child-labor programs reach all cocoa farmers by 2025 and that it would invest over 1 billion to farmers to increase pay for their beans. This includes ramping up programs to build schools, monitor cocoa farms, and implement awareness programs among farmers. However, these same companies have failed to resolve these issues that they committed to tackling nearly 20 years ago. This is due to its self-regulation policy under the Harkin-Engel Protocol crafted in 2000, which has ultimately shielded companies from any legal action relating to child labor.

Indeed, the fragmented structure of the cocoa industry, as well as the remote, rural poverty in which the farmers operate, all make tackling child labor intensely difficult. Since there are no sizable cocoa producers, the vast majority of cocoa farms are tiny family enterprises of just a few acres. 

Furthermore, thanks to COVID-19, the pandemic has likely sent child labor soaring again—in all industries—as schools have closed and poverty has deepened.

Remember to take a look at where your chocolate is sourced from and remember the importance of choice! Consumers play an essential role in diminishing the food industry’s injustices and we encourage you to choose ethically sourced cacao. The Water Brewery aims to only provide raw, organic, fair-trade cacao coming from South and Central America.

A Little Cacao History

According to Aztec mythology, the cacao tree is a gift that descended straight from the garden of paradise. As the legend goes, Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god, presented the Aztecs with this gift, along with knowledge regarding how to grow and process cacao. Quetzalcoatl was said to have called on the goddess of love to imbue the tree with her spirit, making cacao a godly ingredient (Mayordomo Chocolate Cultural Legacy of Oaxaca, Mexico). This rich mythology gives us a taste of just how central chocolate was to many of the traditional communities across Mesoamerica.

When we think of cacao, we often think of it in the form of a chocolate bar. However, that form is far from cacao’s original form. ‘Chocolate’ in Mesoamerica commonly came in the form of a bitter and frothy drink served in royal settings or gifted to noble warriors. The earliest available records of cacao use date to around 1500 BCE. They reveal that cacao beans were ground together with cornmeal and chilli peppers to make a drink that was both invigorating and bitter (Pucciarelli The history of chocolate – Deanna Pucciarelli).

Cacao has been used in Mesoamerica (and beyond) as currency, offerings, and even as medicine. As cacao arrived in Spain, it began to be consumed as a remedy for stomach pain and other digestive ailments. Using chocolate as medicine was also practiced in Mexico City. A manuscript written by Martin De la Cruz from around 1511 CE showcases paintings and texts that refer to traditional medicinal uses of cacao, many of which are still being employed and researched today, such as: using cacao to treat fatigue, indigestion, or chest pain (Lippi Chocolate in history: food, medicine, medi-food).

No matter how you take your chocolate, it’s here to stay. Cacao is truly a gift. 

Coracao chocolate is different because their fillings are minimally processed, easily pronounced, and filled with real ingredients. Finally! In the past that has been a rare find. These chocolates contain an average of 6 ingredients. All 100% organic with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. 

If you’re sensitive to dairy, peanuts, soy, refined sugar, these chocolates not only taste better but leave you feeling great afterwards.  

Coracao uses South American Heirloom Cacao for its perfect balance of fruity, floral high notes & nutty undertones. We source Certified Organic Cacao from biodynamic farms that support lush, green, ecological diversity. All of our farming partners are paid Fair Trade wages or above. 

These make the perfect Valentine gift! 


Choquiero has only used organic, fair trade, and vegan ingredients. Their chocolates are sweetened with unrefined low-glycemic coconut sugar. They do not use any preservatives or emulsifiers such as lecithin. Their wrappers are biodegradable and compostable, and they display their chocolates with reusable wood boxes instead of the typical single-use methods.  

Their cacao is imported from small farmers in Central America through direct trade. Choquiero sources Heirloom Wild Arriba Criollo cacao to bring you the highest quality chocolate possible. “We never source from places that might be compromised even if they say they are fair trade.” – from the Choquiero website.

Wild harvested cacao is a unique system that benefits the soil, cacao trees, ecosystem, and workers. With wild cacao, there are no farms or plantations. Their cacao is sourced from seed-propagated trees, thriving in diverse ecosystems, fed by rain and spring water. Supporting this cacao helps preserve and protect the heirloom varieties we wish to share with the next seven generations and beyond.