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Cacao juice, once the humble farmers’ drink, may be chocolate industry’s ticket to sustainability

Cacao juice, once the humble farmers’ drink, may be chocolate industry’s ticket to sustainability

  • Malagos Chocolate is one of the first local producers to make cacao juice extracted from the white flesh of cacao pods

Cacao is primarily farmed and harvested for, you guessed it, chocolates! But out of the whole pod, only the seeds are actually used to make cocoa. What happens to the rest of the fruit aka 90 percent of the pod? They’re often discarded. That includes the shell and the white fleshy membrane that covers the prized seeds.

In Ecuador, however, farmers chew on this fleshy interior that actually yields a sweet, tangy and refreshing juice. It was only in 2018 when this chocolate juice was introduced to the market (the international one at least) as a viable beverage that can compete with other fruit juices.

US-based Repurposed Pod claims to be the first manufacturer of 100 percent cold-pressed cacao juice extracted from Ecuadorian cacao, although as early as 2010, a  Florida-based beverage brand called Suavva has been making smoothies out of cacao pulp.

Based on both brands’ social media activity (or lack thereof) and their non-responsive websites, however, it looks like their businesses have gone under.

Local resurgence

Nearly three years later, local producers are catching up on the cacao juice market, as Davao City-based chocolaterie Malagos is poised to introduce its second bottled product after Malagos Porter, a mildly bitter chocolate beer.

“This concoction is freshly made in our factory by collecting the juices during the breaking of cacao pods. The scooped out beans are placed in a special container to allow it to drip naturally. The collected juices are pasteurized then bottled,” the chocolatier said of its latest product.

How does it taste?

The juice is best enjoyed as an addition to cocktails or desserts owing to its natural sweetness as well as floral and fruity notes that help accentuate its base flavors. Cocoa pulp, after all, contains 10 to 15 percent sugar and 0.4 -0.8 percent citric acid.

According to Malagos’ Instagram post, its cacao juice is currently available only at Malagos Garden Resort in Davao City. © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.