Cacao, food of the Gods

For the public that I have surveyed a majority assume chocolate is a sweet milk chocolate candy bar readily available in a convience store, but when compared to nutty cacao beans in a rich dark chocolate bar – the taste, nutritional value and the quality sets them far apart. There are a growing number of individuals around the world concerned about their dietary intake. These health concerns drive the consumer to be picky about what food to ingest. Science has proven that food becomes our DNA, it can elevate our mood or become a stressor to our existing allergies. (Haden, 2019) At the end of the day, food is energy that we need to survive.

I love real chocolate. The kind of chocolate where the texture is thick, nutty and rich. It melts with an explosive bitter flavour. Commerical companies and fancy brands from across the world may not have my vote in comparision to locally hand-crafted chocolate found in the Philippines.

Theobroma cacao, is the scientific name of cacao, and literally translates as “food of the Gods” in Greek. While in the Philippines, cacao and chocolate products are known as tsokolate (“cho-ko-lah-the”), tableya or tablea de cacao (“tablets” of cacao), or sikwate (“sik-wah-teh”), the deliciously thick cacao bean rich drink served at breakfast or marienda.

These products are outcomes of either single-origin or blends between three major cultivar groups being grown by farmers. Which are Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario cultivars.

The most prized variety, the Criollo, is native to Central and South America. It is believed that the 1st cacao seed planted in the Philippines was the Criollo variety brought via the Acapulco-Manila Galleon Trade in 1670.

While the significantly harder, disease resistant and high-yielding, Forastero, is a native of the Amazon basin and is the most versatile variety. It is most commonly grown cocoa that accounts for 80% of the world’s cocoa supply. These beans are purple-coloured and mainly used to give chocolate its full-bodied flavour. They have bitter taste, thus, often blended with superior cocoas.

Trinitario, the hybrid of Criollo and Forastero combines the best of the two: the hardiness and high yield of Forastero, and the refined taste of Criollo. Found in all the countries where Criollo cocoa was once grown including Southeast Asia and the Philippines; today it accounts for about 10% of the world’s cacao supply.

Cacao Chunks Mint has a powerful refreshing explosion with a delightful sweet and nutty chocolate flavour.

Cacao Chunks 50% Plain is well complimented by the heart-friendly moscovado sugar for a reasonable hint of sweetness.

JN Cacao uses forastero beans for their cacao and their owner, Jan Navarro, has always had an interest in Filipino food and culture. He even established several other businesses such as dried fish and dried mango. Then one day, he wanted to create a product that he could really call his own but also in-line with being locally sourced in Cebu, Philippines – where he is born and raised. That is how JN Cacao started in 2017.

JN Cacao offers the authentic dark chocolate made from only excellent fresh quality sourced local cacao beans. Literally from bean to bar! So the next time you crave chocolate look into the healthy range of products JN Cacao offers.

For individuals into making cakes and pastries, try the cacao powder. It is incomparable to other brands in the market.

Whether you’d like to eat now, bring it in your bag for later or use as a topping, then the cacao chunks chocolates are the way to go! I personally enjoy them between study periods and as a pre-workout.

For hot cacao drinks, sikwate or a concentrated dark chocolate, then there the delectable cacao tablea.

Beyond indulgence of these chocolate treats, you are also appreciating local cacao products because each purchase supports local Cebuano farmers and their livelihood.

Be sure to check out JN Cacao on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

For orders email, or contact +63 936 711 3010. I am sure Jan will be happy to hear from you, especially if he hears that Raine Baljak sent you.


H. Shmerling MD, R., 2017. Your brain on chocolate – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: <; [Accessed 20 April 2021].

Wakeman, J., 2018. Dark Chocolate Reduces Stress, Improves Memory. [online] Healthline. Available at: <; [Accessed 20 April 2021].

Haden, J., 2019. Scientists Just Discovered That Eating Chocolate Has an Amazing Effect on Happiness. But There Is a (Literally) Small Catch. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 12 April 2021].

2016. 2017-2022 Philippine Cacao Industry Roadmap. [PDF] The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI), pp.ii, 1-4. Available at: <; [Accessed 12 April 2021].