Re – Imagine Chocolate
Our chocolate – while being mysterious, forbidden and indulgent – sweetens experience, calms the nerves, energises and excites us. I thought I knew chocolate before meeting my family, but after that first experience drinking original chocolate, I was a believer.
The link between cacao and sexual desire stretches back millenia. Chocolate’s original name was Xocoatl, ‘The Drink of the Gods’. Considered the first non-alcoholic stimulant drink in Europe; a font of potency, an elixir, a curative, a panacea for mental stress, thirst quencher, fever reducer, relief to the broken-hearted and amour for the loveless.
Made in Trinidad
Beni Tonka’s Trinidad Black Chocolate is locally grown, harvested and manufactured. We make our chocolate at home in Trinidad to ensure our farmers, manufacturers and their families enhance their lives by benefiting directly and by growing with us. Like this we cultivate not only the highest calibre pure chocolate imaginable, but community.
Minding | Cultivation
The cocoa tree is a delicate being; therefore, for her fruits to express themselves season after season, year after year, to their full potential, the entire harvest process must be as delicate as the tree herself. It is a low-canopy tree, preferring the shade and shelter of the higher Bois Immortelle, Mahogany, Cedar, Purple Heart and Cocoa Orange trees. Hot sun, high winds and heavy rains make her uneasy. Vines and epiphytes weigh her down; however, she’s learned to live with the ornate charms of lichen and moss. As custodians of the land, our farmers heed the call of Papa Bois — the protector of the forest. While she still maintains a wild spirit, farmers must take special care to provide the most fruitful environment for these precious trees to grow in.
Samble | Harvest
The cacao pods are carefully, hand-harvested. One cannot just simply slash away at tree or branch. Come at her in this way and she will no longer bear for us. The parrots, howler monkeys, agouti, red brocket deer, ants and even children feel this, and are therefore welcome to indulge occasionally in and on her precious fruit. After they’re picked, sambléd up an incline and gathered, pods are burst open in a manner to prevent the amaranthine beans from any damage.
Sweat | Fermentation
Beans and pulp are then removed by hand and put into wooden boxes for fermentation or a ‘sweat’ — in local parlance. The beans are turned occasionally so that they ferment evenly for 5-7 days. Temperatures are monitored throughout the fermentation to get consistent results, as microorganisms brewing inside can turn up to and over 50° C.
Cocoa House | Sun dry
The fermented beans are then spread out on a raised wooden structure with retracting roof, a ‘cocoa house’. Traditionally, built on top of homes on the countryside, cocoa houses were so instrumental in communities that they even influenced how roads were lain and houses were built, always orienting themselves north to south for maximum sunlight for the drying beans. The beans sun dry until moisture levels reach approximately 7%. Then, we dance the cocoa — much like grape and olive harvest traditions where fruits are smashed under barefoot rhythms and wine and oil result — to polish the beans with the waist-wining songs and soles of my people.
Patch | Roast
A low and slow roast unveils and preserves the cacao bean’s best flavour and natural components. Beans are generally, 51% cocoa butter / 49% cocoa mass. The beans are then winnowed to remove the outer husk, revealing broken pieces of cacao called, nibs.
Melanger | Stone Grinder
These nibs are then stone-ground into a dense, aromatic liquid using a robust, double-wheeled melanger – forged a century ago in Dresden, Germany. Our humble chocolate factory is a family operation that has been around for 60 years in Trinidad.
“The cacao bean is a phenomenon, for nowhere else has nature concentrated such a wealth of valuable nourishment in so small a place.” Alexander von Humboldt
an amino acid – related to amphetamine – that stimulates the nervous system by triggering the release of pleasurable opium-like compounds, endorphins; thus, elevating mood, increasing amiability, tranquility and bliss. Also found in the human brain, it is probably the most influential love compound in chocolate. Consensus among psych-pharmacologists, is that people consume chocolate to boost PEA, thereby echoing the same euphoric arousal experienced when falling in love. PEA also potentiates the activity of dopamine, a neurochemical directly associated with sexual arousal and pleasure. It acts as a potent anti-depressant and rises during periods of romance; significantly increasing in the brain before and when we achieve orgasm.
born of the Sanskrit word Ananda, meaning eternal bliss. Like phenylalanine, anandamide helps arouse emotions and heighten sensations in the body. Cannabis contains a group of compounds called cannabinoids. Of these, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, causes the high associated with consuming that plant. Cannabinoids are found in only two other places: the human brain – where the mind-altering anandamide is manufactured – and in chocolate. It’s not the sugar producing that kind of euphoria.
Chocolate gets right to the heart of sexual pleasure by increasing the brain’s level of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. It plays a major role in positive mood, emotional health, proper sleep and a balanced appetite; also, contributing to numerous behavioral and physiological functions. Decreased serotonin is a well-known factor in cases of depression or following various hallucinogenic trips. Many then consume chocolate as a form of selfmedication, mostly unaware of the fact. Increased brain serotonin promoted by chocolate increases sexual excitation, desire and responsiveness.
Women tend to have more serotonin in their systems than men and appear to be more sensitive to chocolate. Chocolate provides a mood boost to women during menstruation, when serotonin levels are often down. It is also great and safe for breastfeeding. Chocolate’s serotonin elevating activity helps to modify mood in positive ways and acts as a sexual sweetener, enhancing a sense of closeness between lovers.
a building block of serotonin, helps the brain increase serotonin production. Increased amounts of serotonin from endorphin secretions in your brain will make you feel good, and anything that makes you feel good is going to put you in the right mood.
Helps the brain manufacture serotonin.
Theobroma cacao, cacao’s scientific name, derives itself from one of it’s active stimulants, theobromine; a vasodilator (blood vessel widener) used to treat high blood pressure, and often taken as a diuretic. Like caffeine, it serves as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing alertness and concentration; though theobromine gives a stronger cardiac boost. And guess what, it’s also a mood-enhancer.
In 2014, the European Food Safety Authority approved the following health claim for cocoa products containing minimum 200 mg of flavanols: “cocoa flavanols help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow.”
Pure chocolate is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, a group of protective chemicals found in many plant foods. Researchers at Cornell University discovered that cacao contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine and up to three times that of green tea (specifically those defending the skin against free radicals). Drinking chocolate will give you more antioxidants than eating chocolate, because heat simply releases more of them.
Papa Bois – protector of flora and fauna. A full bearded, wholly weathered spirit. Half-man, half-beast, cloven feet, crowned with Kudu horns, detached at will, and sounded upon rescue of an endangered animal. Morphing into any creature of his choice, he surprises poachers, casting a sinister spell to transform his victim into a quenk.