At Meraki Cacao, it’s always been our aim to create a delicious treat using healthy ingredients. We use raw cacao nibs as our main ingredient, which we stone grind before making our bars. 

Cacao, pronounced ‘Ka-Cow’, has been revered for centuries by the indigenous populations of the South Americas, particularly the Aztecs and Mayans. It was initially made into a bitter drink that was shared during religious ceremonies. The cacao bean was also used as a currency to trade with, given to warriors as a post-battle reward, and served at royal feasts. Our Aztec bar reflects the flavours used in such drinks. 

What’s the difference between Cacao and Cocoa?

Cacao and cocoa start the same. Cacao beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree, which is native to South America. It is the way that they are processed that determines whether they become cocoa or remain as cacao. There are three varieties of beans, Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario, all of which have differing tastes and qualities. We like to use the Criollo variety as it is a very high-quality ingredient and produces a wide range of richer flavours. Our supplier sources it from Peru, where local communities grow it organically and sustainably within the forest.

The cacao beans are fermented in their pulp for at least 36 hours to kill pathogens. They are then removed from the pulp and left to dry in the sunshine. If the beans are then roasted at very high temperatures and processed, this is termed cocoa. Cocoa has a more familiar taste and is less bitter than cacao. The processes involved in producing cocoa can mean it loses much of its nutritional value.

Raw cacao beans are not roasted at these high temperatures but processed at low temperatures. This means that they retain much of the nutrients for which it is highly prized, but it can also mean that on their own can taste quite bitter. We mitigate the bitterness by stone grinding the nibs with our chosen ingredients.

Health Benefits

Cacao has amazing health properties. Here’s why we choose to use it and why you should love eating raw cacao:

High in fibre which can help digestion

High in antioxidants – antioxidants absorb free radicals from pollution or the environment, which can cause cell damage, leading to illness.

High in polyphenols, especially flavonoids – these nutrients can lower blood pressure as well as improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Flavanoids can also increase insulin sensitivity, improving blood sugar control and reducing inflammation in the body. They can also improve your mood, reduce stress and make you feel happier.

High in potassium – potassium also reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of heart disease.

High in Iron – cacao contains the highest plant source of iron. Levels are higher than those found in meat or spinach. Combine eating cacao with a source of Vitamin C for greater iron absorption. Iron is needed to help carry oxygen around the body, reduce fatigue, boost our immune system, and improve concentration and muscle function.

High in Protein – needed for growth and to maintain and repair tissues.

High in Magnesium – magnesium can be deficient in western diets, and it’s essential for healthy hearts, increased brain function, and healthy bones and teeth.

High in Calcium – needed for healthy teeth and bones

High in theobromine – a recent study by the British Lung Foundation found that theobromine in cacao can help aid persistent coughs. Allowing a piece of our cacao bars to slowly dissolve in your mouth or making a hot cacao drink out of our bars could help to soothe irritating coughs.

Healthy source of fats – we need healthy fats for our nervous system, immunity, growth and a healthy metabolism.

Of course, like chocolate, cacao products can be high in calories and contain a lot of sugar. For this reason, we have designed our bars to be enjoyed in small amounts. We have also carefully chosen to use the most nutritious unrefined sweeter available to complement and boost the nutritional value of our cacao bars. Our sweetener is Palmyra blossom nectar, and we will discuss why it’s so amazing in another blog. 


Our Criollo cacao beans are grown in the Peruvian Amazon, the spiritual home of cacao.

Enjoyed by locals long before they shared its secrets with the outside world, cacao and Peru have an intertwined history. Most of Peru’s cacao is grown by smallholders who rely on it as their primary source of income year-round. Most of the harvesting takes place between April and September and is called ‘la cosecha grande’, which literally means ‘the big harvest’ in Spanish. Their crop is sold to cooperatives who act as intermediaries. It’s then processed in Peru before being trucked to Lima and exported to the UK.

Environmental impact

Peruvian cacao is grown sustainably amongst trees or shrubs using the Agroforestry land management system. This method has much less environmental impact than the fertiliser-heavy plantations that are common in West Africa and cause so much deforestation.

Fair Trade

The cacao is not currently officially certified as ‘fair trade’, however, our suppliers not only pay a fair wage, but they also have a well established and successful programme which offers the following:

– Financial incentives
– Educational and health programmes
– Zero-interest loans
– Investment in community projects
– Training
– Philanthropic activities
– Tool Bank
– Advance Payment
– Funeral Expenses

This further supports the rural communities that are the foundations of the Peruvian cacao sector.