Cocoa absolute is used for its rich, dark chocolate aroma. It contains more than 300 different compounds and many of which are believed to increase endorphins and serotonin production when inhaled, so don’t be afraid to have a good sniff!
The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) grows in warm, humid forests near the equator. It yields large dark red or yellow pods containing up to 50 seeds each, coated by a soft, edible flesh. The seeds, also called cocoa beans, are covered to ferment and then dried. During this process, they lose their acidic taste and develop their familiar chocolate scent.
To obtain cocoa butter and powder, the prepared beans are cleaned, dried and roasted and then ground into a thick, oily paste called chocolate liquor. The liquor can be used as such for chocolate-making or subjected to high pressure to separate cocoa powder from the butter.
Lush has been buying cocoa beans from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (in northwestern Colombia) since 2010 and supports the community’s application for Fair Trade and organic producers certification every year.
The Peace Community consists of farmers who are all committed to non-violence in a region ravaged by armed conflicts. They have incorporated permaculture techniques in their growing practices, such as mixed planting and composting, so they don’t need to buy pesticides and fertilisers. Once collected, cocoa beans are shipped to Europe for processing into butter and powder. The powder is then distilled into an absolute in France.