Posted in Kafevend Blog

We have been looking at an awful lot of tea and coffee related goings-on in recent weeks, so today's article is going to take a look at cocoa, one of our other favourite subjects- and drinks! The topic is a little more left field than our standard chocolatey fare however, as we will be looking at cacao pulp, a little known but very useful part of the contents of a cacao pod.

When it comes to making chocolate, the cacao pulp is used during the first stage of processing. After the cacao pods have been harvested, they are split open. The beans and some of the pulp are removed and placed in heaps or bins to allow the pulp to ferment. Whilst fermenting, flavours transfer from the rich sugary pulp to the beans which helps to develop the final taste of the chocolate. At the end of the process, the pulp becomes liquefied and runs off, becoming a waste product in most cases.

Whilst that fermentation process is the most we chocolate eaters ever get out of cacao pulp, the farmers themselves get more out of it. The left over pulp is used to make juice, or sometimes fermented by itself to form the basis of an alcoholic drink. The reason we don't see these drinks elsewhere than on cacao farms is because the pulp goes off quickly. However, this problem has lately been solved by Agro Innova, an American company that has recently established their Suavva brand.

Using something called high-pressure processing, they have hit upon a way to keep bacteria out of the pulp, making sure the taste is not compromised. The pulp is then mixed with a range of other items to produce their cacao smoothie range. The range has four flavours: amazing cacao, merry mango, blissful berry and chocolatey cheer, each featuring cacao pulp mixed with agave nectar, mango, blueberry and raspberry, and cocoa powder respectively. As well as possessing a great taste, the smoothies feature a glut of health benefits thanks to the pulp, which contains lots of vitamins B, D and E along with magnesium, antioxidants and theobromine.

What is particularly interesting about this resurgence in the use of cacao pulp as a drink is how it has been argued that it was the pulp, not the beans (or seeds, rather) that was first used by ancient Mesoamerican civilisations. One scientific camp has put forward the proposal that early Mesoamericans fermented the pulp to create an alcoholic beverage before they hit upon fermenting, roasting and grinding the beans. It is certainly an attractive proposition, as we all know that humanity has a way of finding new things to help take the edge off at the end of a long day.

Suavva's range will be finding its way into stores in the US over the next year, but we personally cannot wait to see it make its way across the pond to our stores (and vending machines) here in the UK some time in the future!

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