Friday, January 20, 2012

Brewing up some hot coffee...oops, I mean cocoa

I tried to do something different with chocolate today. Since I have very few chocolate bars to taste for this two-week period in my no-sugar, 90% to 100% dark chocolate plan, I thought I would try something new.

I ground up and brewed cocoa beans as if they were coffee beans!

In case you are confused, a cup of hot chocolate would actually have the cocoa powder in your cup, whereas brewed cocoa beans would just mean that the water would pass through finely ground cocoa beans, but no actual cocoa powder or grounds would be in your beverage.

I have always wondered about trying this and if anyone else is selling cups of hot brewed cocoa in cafes or chocolate shops across North America (or elsewhere). Then I saw a a Google advertisement about Crio Brü (http://www.criobru.com/crio-bru/) which is a line of cocoa bean products that are roasted, ground and packaged for drinking and brewing just like coffee.

So although I plan to order some Crio Brü in the future and write a product review about it, I was too anxious to try brewing my own cup of cocoa today. I pulled out my bag of CACAO POWER (a brand of organic Peruvian cocoa beans I bought at a health food store) from the cupboard and started shelling and grinding and taking notes like it was a Grade 8 science project.  I realized in that moment that I might have done better in the annual Science Project competition as a teenager had I just applied my skills to chocolate science!

The shelling was a messy process. It was difficult to crack the shells with my hands, so I gave in and started cracking them with my teeth (I would not do this if I was preparing it for other people, but since it was just for me, I was not worried about my own slobber infiltrating my brewed cocoa!). Since the bean turns to nibs when roasted, they almost always come crumbling out in bits with the shells mixed in. Which meant that shelling the beans took a really long time and I was beginning to see the benefit of waiting for a shipment of Crio Brü and having someone else do this hard part for me!

Then I looked at my options for grinding.  I have a small coffee grinder, but since it is in use these days for some coffee grinding, I thought it might affect the flavour of the cocoa drink that I was trying to make. I took the Cuisinart hand grinder and tried that. I put all the beans into the grinder and ground for a good ten minutes and it was still lumpy.  So I gave up and took out the coffee grinder, wiping it to ensure it was as free of coffee as possible. I ground up two tablespoons of the cocoa nibs in the coffee grinder. After a minute it was well ground and a little pasty. 

So I made two different cups, one with the lumpy, coarser grounds from the hand grinder, and one cup made from the finer grounds in the coffee grinder.  I used a little one-cup Bodum for the brewing. 

To make the brewed cocoa drink, I did as Crio Brü recommended, and measured out two tablespoons for one "coffee" cup measure (which is 3/4 of a cup or about 6 oz) of hot water.  I boiled the water, then poured it in and let sit in the Bodum with each set of cocoa bean grounds for five minutes. The coarser one was very watery, whereas the well ground one was a little darker but definitely not as dark as brewed coffee. In fact, it just had a watery hot chocolate look to it.

I tried them both "black" with no cream, and I tried them with some half & half cream. I liked it much better with the cream, but really drinking it just reminded me of drinking a very weak coffee, or a hot chocolate made with water instead of milk.

I also added a 1/4 tsp of sugar to the stronger one and found that it suddenly tasted much better (um, of course, everything tastes better sweetened). Since I do not drink my coffee with sugar, I am not sure this would be the best option for me if I converted to brewed cocoa every day. 

Overall it was a little like a weak hot chocolate and I am not sure that I liked it.  However, I did not like coffee as a teenager when I first started drinking it, but now I love it. So I could see how this could easily become a daily drink once I got used to it. There is less caffeine in hot brewed cocoa than in brewed coffee and, according to Crio Brü, you won't get the jittery feeling from drinking too much (although I would have to argue against that since I have experienced the caffeine jitters from too much chocolate! ...although I am a rare case who has been known to consume too much dark chocolate in one day!).

I would like to try a few of Crio Brü's products because they sell pre-ground (I think) single-origin beans.  And not only that, they sell Criollo cacao beans (the best kind of bean) from a few different cocoa growing regions in the world. Wouldn't it be fun to line them up and taste the differences just like a proper chocolate, wine or coffee tasting? I am sure it would be a good experience, and certainly better tasting than brewing up some old cocoa beans that I found in the back of my cupboard!

Well, it is nearing the end of my first week of +90% dark chocolate tasting. I will write a post in the next few days about the chocolate bars that I have been tasting this week and my experience going "unsweetened" for the month of January, so stay tuned!

In keeping with the format of my other posts, below are the package details from the cocoa beans that I tasted today:

CACAO POWER, Mayan Superfood, "Raw Chocolate Beans" 16 oz bag (454g)
NAVITAS NATURALS, Novato, CA (USA)
Product of Peru, Packed in the USA
www.navitasnaturals.com
Ingredients: Organic Raw Cacao Beans

6 comments:

  1. Hi There, I just stumbled across you sweet blog. I was looking for a few pictures of the Cacao Bean...it led me here. I see that you have been wanting to try Crio Bru....I am a distributor for Choffy. (Which Crio Bru is a spin off of). Anyway, I wondered if you'd like to try Choffy and do a write up on it?? I predict you will LOVE it! Please holler if you'd like to give it a try. Please go to - www.drinkchoffy.com/melissachristensen for tons of great information.
    I am looking forward to spending some time digging around your blog for more chocolately information and tidbits.
    Take care,
    Melissa
    my blog is - nosmalldetails.blogspot.com - I have made several Choffy Youtube videos recently .... hope you check them out

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love to read the whole article. Your step by step Cocoa Brewing process is really enjoyable to read. It's also a intelligence thinking to use a coffee grinderfor grinding the beans.Thanks For Sharing your Experience.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Humm...This post is such a good. thanks for sharing this post. After reading this post, i made Cocoa Brewing coffee. Also used Best coffee maker for making and grinding the beans. After making i drunk with enjoy.

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  4. Thank you for sharing such informative article. This is very helpful to a newbie who is looking for Best coffee Grinders for Cocoa Brewing

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