For the past year and a half, whenever I eat yogurt I’ll usually sprinkle a small handful of cacao nibs on top.
The nibs add a nice crunch and a bitter chocolate taste to my yogurt, and are also considered a ‘superfood’ for the abundant health benefits they deliver: Not only are cacao beans packed full of magnesium and antioxidants, but according to Food & Wine “trigger three neurotransmitters that are associated with elevating mood and mental well being: serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine.”
This all sounds good to me, but I know not everyone likes the bitter taste of raw cacao nibs or wants a Grape Nuts like crunch in their yogurt. If this describes you, don’t worry: you may soon be able to tap into the health benefits of cacao by replacing your espresso with a tasty dark brew made from pure cacao powder.
The person behind this idea is Elina Luzi, the founder of a company called Live Better, the maker of a cacao espresso making machine called the Chokkino. I met Luzi last week in Milan at Seeds & Chips, where she not only brewed up a cup of cacao espresso for me (definitely tasty), but also told me why she wants to replace the coffee bean with cacao.
“Coffee is a fantastic beverage, but drinking too much may lead to stress and other problems like anxiety and insomnia,” said Luzi. With the Chokkino, she says they are returning cacao to its roots as a “functional food” where it has served as a powerful drink for thousands of years.
According to Luzi, the Chokkino, which has only shipped so far in her home country of Italy, is currently available in about 350 cafes and restaurants today. One of those locations is the Bologna airport, where I saw a sign advertising Chokkino beverages as I rushed towards my gate.
If you’re not planning on getting to Italy soon, that doesn’t mean you won’t eventually get to try out the Chokkino. That’s because Luzi and co. have plans to expand beyond her home market of Italy and, eventually even ship a home version of the Chokkino.
“We are developing a consumer machine that will be really game changing,” said Luzi.
And who knows, maybe even some day you may see a Chokkino at your local Starbucks. If that sounds far-fetched, remember: Starbucks longtime CEO Howard Schultz got the idea for what Starbucks could be while on a trip to Milan, Italy.
And just who did Luzi brew a nice cacao espresso for last year while in Milan? Yep, you guessed it.
You can watch my full interview with Luzi below.