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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cacao drinks: a source of health for our ancestors


Leonardo Buitrago Morales is an organic cacao producer in the town of Meleruk, within the Talamanca Bribri indigenous territory, Limón. Alongside his family, he not only grows this fruit, but also prepares it for sale in presentations of cacao powder, cacao bars, cacao nibs, and dried cacao seeds. These dehydrated cacao beans are raw, and have passed only the first step of preparation: that is, four days of drying in the sun. To prepare one of the recipes that Leonardo shares today, we will start with these. For the second recipe, you’ll need cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder).

“Our ancestors used this drink for traditional ceremonies,” explains Leonardo. “For example, someone who says goodbye to this world does all his purifications with cacao. When a woman gives birth, her maternity is also purified with cacao. Young women and girls with their first menstruation are also purified with cacao so that their lives are healthier and they are set on a successful path.”

Casa Aiko is an initiative of the Bribri indigenous people of Talamanca that markets the cacao they produce in the area where Leonardo comes from. They sell their cacao (from dehydrated seed to cacao powder) in presentations of 100 grams and also wholesale. Leonardo brings the products to San José and makes home deliveries. You can place your orders through WhatsApp at +506 8499-1938.

Read more in El Colectivo 506 about Leonardo’s participation in the Sikwa Restaurant project.

Dry cacao seeds. From Casa Aiko’s Facebook.

Cold cacao drink

100 g of dehydrated cacao beans
Fruit to taste
Sugar to taste


  • Toast the raw seeds for 35 minutes in a pot or thick griddle.
  • Move the seeds constantly to prevent them from burning.
  • The cacao is ready when the shell cracks easily once the seed is squeezed.
  • For each drink you can use about 10-12 roasted seeds.
  • Crush the roasted seed. You can do this on a table and with a glass bottle or a large stone, or you can use a mortar and pestle.
  • Remove the cacao shell. You can do this on a tray by tossing the ground cacao up and blowing to separate the shell from the nib.
  • The cacao bean pieces that result from this process are the cacao nibs.
  • In the blender, place a tablespoon of cacao nibs—or the equivalent of 10-12 roasted seeds—for each glass of drink you are going to prepare. Add fruit, sugar and enough water to complete the portions you decided to prepare.
  • Blend.
  • Taste the drink and decide if you need more nibs or sugar, depending on your taste.

Hot cacao drink

1 tablespoon of cacao powder for each cup you want to prepare
You can add other ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, etc., to taste.


  • Add a tablespoon of cacao to a pot for each cup of water you want to prepare.
  • Add the corresponding amount of water.
  • Bring the water to a boil and mix constantly.
  • Once the water has boiled, add the other ingredients to taste.
  • Serve hot.
Cacao powder. Cortesía Leonardo Buitrago / El Colectivo 506
Directorio 506
Directorio 506
Reportajes creados por el Directorio 506 son un esfuerzo conjunto entre el equipo editorial de El Colectivo y los emprendedores y organizaciones que participan en nuestro directorio nacional de turismo rural. Reportes bearing the byline Directorio 506 are created jointly between the editorial team of El Colectivo 506 and the entrepreneurs and organizations that participate in our national directory of rural tourism.


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