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Making Sikwate: from cacao fruit to a hot dark chocolate drink Jan 25, 2018

Making Sikwate: from cacao fruit to a hot dark chocolate drink

Location: Lyn's Backpacker Inn, Loboc (municipality), Bohol (province), Philippines


I'm a big sikwate fan and it gives me great joy to be introduced to the making of the sikwate - a hot dark chocolate drink that has been part of the Filipino tradition since the Spanish times. Rare and highly prized in Europe and North America, it is ironic that it has remained a poor man's morning drink in the wet markets of the Philippines. However, it has been trending lately with its introduction into polite society's proper cafe scene.

Spanish Cacao
Bohol is a source of the Spanish variety of cacao that commands a high price in the global market. This tree is hardy, grows big and survives for decades, bearing small and hard cacao beans. The Spanish trees still exist but usually inside residential compounds or in the forest as one-off trees. I am not aware of any production scale of the Spanish variety cacao. In contrast, the popular grafted hybrid does not get too tall, bears big fruits but only for about a decade before the tree flounders.

Lyn's Backpackers InnLyn's Backpackers Inn
Here at Lyn's Backpackers Inn, run by the Huerte family, the surrounding land is rich in their produce - cacao (Spanish variety), herbs, rice, chickens, etc. As I resumed my short-term residency, I came upon their trusted hand, simply known as "Bossing" whom I chanced on roasting cacao. I interviewed him about the process and even helped out removing the skin from the roasted cacao. Meticulously, he took me along the steps from cacao fruit to the sikwate drink.

Making Sikwate: from cacao fruit to a hot dark chocolate drink
Bossing and me skinning the roasted cacao seeds

Making of Sikwate from Cacao

  1. fruit picking - ripe yellow cacao fruit is picked from the tree. The fruit is halved and kids suck the sweet nectar from the seed like they would the santol
  2. drying - the seeds are then washed and left to dry in the sun
  3. roasting - the dried seeds are then dry-roasted for about an hour while stirring constantly to prevent burning. If buying dry seeds in the market, the price is about P190/kilo in Tagbilaran and about P175/kilo in Ubay
  4. skinning - after roasting, when the seeds are not too hot, the skin is crushed-off from the seed and the seed is separated from the rest. Often, the entire seed breaks and the skin blends in with the crushed seed. This section is separated as well in a bilao, where it is threshed. If roasted and de-skinned cacao seed is bought from the market, the price is about P500/kilo.
  5. threshing - the bilao is then threshed to separate the crushed skin from the crushed seeds, similar to the way brown husk is separated from the white rice. Usually, a light breeze is needed to blow the crushed skin away. The remaining crushed seed is now joined with the whole seeds for grinding
  6. grinding - the batch is then ground similar to peanuts being ground to make peanut butter. The ground cacao seed has the consistency of melted chocolate. It's runny and gooey unlike peanut butter which is pasty. There is no grinder facility in Loboc, so the batch is sent to the neighboring town of Loay for grinding. Grinding is P18/kilo.
  7. semi hardening - ground cocoa is allowed to cool and semi-harden to be shaped into tableya
  8. shaping into Tableya - when the ground cocoa has semi-hardened and can be worked-on, it is put inside a polvoron presser/shaper to assume a circular form - about 1.5 inches in diameter and about 4mm thick. This is now called Tableya and is usually sold in the market as-is, packaged in a variety of weights. This can now be stored for future use. Tableya can also be used to make champorado (chocolate rice porridge).
  9. sikwate - water is boiled and the Tableya added into it and whisked for a frothy finish. Put as much Tableya for the desired chocolate strength and pour into a cup - that beverage is now called sikwate - pure native hot dark chocolate drink.
  10. serving - sikwate is traditionally served in the morning paired with puto-maya (sticky rice cooked in coconut milk)

Sikwate in Proper Cafes
Sorry to have strung you along, but sikwate at Lyn's is only for their family consumption - perhaps in the near future, it would be available if my persuasive power prevails :) In the meantime, you can enjoy sikwate in the following proper cafes:

Ending Thoughts
I'm also a coffee fan, but if it's a choice, I would choose sikwate hands down over coffee. I add a little bit of rum and thick heavy cream for a richer texture. In the ancient Mayan culture, it is said that chocolate was food for the gods. Drinking pure sikwate delights the divine residing within you.

--- TheLoneRider
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Making of sikwate from cacao in pictures

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Reader Comments:

Brenda BeattyBrenda
(Jan 28, 2018) Yummy! Is there no sweetener added?

(Jan 25, 2018) dear Brenda, what a pleasant surprise! No sugar or sweetener whatsoever is added to tableya (100% pure dark chocolate block), unless specified by other commercial vendors. You can add your sweetener though once you make a sikwate drink from the tableya.

TheLoneRiderBrenda Beatty
(Jan 25, 2018) People of North America are much more appreciative of bitter, roasty flavours. Everything is sweetened here. Thanks for showing the whole process of creation.

Alexander BangcayaAlexander Bangcaya
(Jan 28, 2018) Turuan mo ko, Git (Teach me, Git)

Next stop: Cacao Drum Roasting

Related Bohol Coffee/Cacao Links:

Google Map Loboc, Bohol, Philippines

tourist attractions in Bohol tourist attractions hotels in Bohol hotel
Fox & The Firefly Cottages Fox & The Firefly Cottages - SUP paddle boarding, luxury riverside native cottages, mountain bike tours, SUP yoga
    Brgy. Valladolid, Loboc, Bohol
restaurant in Loboc restaurant
Villagio's Pizza Villagio's Pizza - wood burning oven, hand-tossed pizza
    Loboc Town Plaza, Loboc, Bohol

Bohol FYI / Tips

Tagbilaran Port to Panglao

You can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
  1. don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
  2. in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)

Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat

** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
  1. Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
    one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
    round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
    round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
  2. Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
    +63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
  3. SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
    P 500.00
    +63 32 233 7000

Things to do, Places to go in Bohol

  1. Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
  2. Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
  3. Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
  4. Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.


  • Exploring Combento Cave Pool June 29, 2017
  • Visiting Cabagnow Cave Pool of Anda Jun 28, 2017
  • Exploring Anda, Bohol June 25-30, 2017

  • Candijay
  • Roadtrip from Candijay to Ubay July 1, 2017
  • Firefly Tour in Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017
  • Freediving Canawa Cold Spring of Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017
  • Splashing at Can-umantad Falls, Candijay, Bohol June 30, 2017

  • Carlos P. Garcia Island
  • Exploring Carlos P. Garcia (CPG) Island by Bike Dec 1, 2017

  • Corella
  • Cycling to the Tarsiers of Corella Oct 26, 2017

  • Dauis
  • Cliff Dive at Molave Cove Feb 11, 2018
  • Freediving at Molave Point, Dauis Nov 6, 2017
  • The Return to Hinagdanan Cave Nov 5, 2017
  • Exploring Hinagdanan Cave Oct 24, 2017

  • Loay
  • The Ride to Morning Hill Oct 22, 2017
  • The Ride to the Old Spanish Tower Oct 21, 2017

  • Loboc
  • Goodbye Loboc, Goodbye Philippines Mar 15, 2018
  • The CubbyHole: Envisioning a Utopian Shangrila Mar 10, 2018
  • Fat Shredder with the Russian Twist Mar 2, 2018
  • No-Dismount Climb to Cruz Daku Mar 1, 2018
  • Jeffrey's Cardio Program Feb 26, 2018
  • SUP Yoga with Lalah de Dios at Fox and the Firefly Feb 25, 2018
  • Bike Ride with Juan Huerte: Loboc, Sikatuna, Corella and Baclayon Feb 25, 2018
  • CT Scan Result Feb 23, 2018
  • The Silent Killer has Arrived Feb 19-22, 2018
  • 24+ Days at Lyn's Backpackers Inn Jan 23 - Feb 16, 2018
  • All Day Fun with the Loboc Crew Feb 11, 2018
  • 20-Minute Rope Skipping w/ Pranayama and Meditation Feb 9, 2018
  • Calisthenics with Jeffrey Feb 7, 2018
  • Abs-Core Workout with Jeffrey Feb 5, 2018
  • High Intensity Cardio Workout Feb 2, 2018
  • Ride to the Landslide with Jeffrey Jan 31, 2018
  • Farm Tour with Mr. Raymond Cal Jan 29, 2018
  • Cacao Drum Roasting Jan 27, 2018
  • Making Sikwate: from cacao fruit to a hot dark chocolate drink Jan 25, 2018
  • 5 Weeks at the Fox and Firefly Cottages Dec 13, 2017 - Jan 23, 2018
  • In-House Yoga Teacher at the Fox and Firefly Cottages Jan 22, 2018
  • Mountain Bike Rides from Tagbilaran to Loboc Jan 18, 2018
  • Firefly Tour on a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) Dec 19, 2017
  • Playing Mountain Bike Tour Optimizer Dec 18, 2017
  • Back to Loboc Dec 13, 2017
  • 37 Days in Loboc - Thank You and Goodbye Oct 8-Nov 14, 2017
  • Exploring Busay Falls, Loktob Spring and Jimili-an Spring...on Foot Nov 11, 2017
  • Stand-Up Paddle Yoga with Joan Christine Nov 3, 2017
  • Loboc River Cruise on a Stand-Up Paddle Oct 29, 2017
  • Exploring Guimba and Sog-ong Caves of Loboc Oct 22, 2017
  • Ziplining and Cable Car Ride at Eco-Tourism Adventure Park Oct 22, 2017
  • Savouring Villagio Pizza Oct 19, 2017
  • Wet and Wild Bonbon-Alegria Downhill Ride Oct 18, 2017
  • River Cruise on Loboc River Oct 17, 2017
  • Back Road Ride from Loboc to Loay Oct 17, 2017
  • Leisurely Ride to Loktob Spring Oct 14, 2017
  • Sweet Ride to Busay Falls Oct 13, 2017
  • Bike Climb to the Virgen de Guadalupe Oct 12, 2017
  • The Ride to Cruz Daku (Big Cross) Oct 11, 2017
  • Exploring Loboc, Bohol Oct 8, 2017

  • Panglao
  • Coastal Cleanup with Plastic Free Bohol Sept 16, 2017
  • Exploring Panglao June 12-18, 2017
  • Yoga with Ging and Rai at Oasis Resort June 18, 2017
  • Freediving with Ben Meerhaeghe at SeaQuest Dive Center June 16, 2017
  • Scuba Diving Balicasag Island with SeaQuest Dive Center June 15, 2017
  • Bohol Revisited June 12, 2017
  • Exploring Bohol Nov 28-30, 2015

  • San Miguel
  • Visiting Bayongan Lake Nov 22, 2017

  • Sevilla
  • Killer MTB Ride from Sevilla Oct 30, 2017

  • Sikatuna
  • Solo Ride to the Sikatuna Tree Park Nov 2, 2017

  • Tagbilaran
  • 30 days in Tagbilaran, Thank You! Oct 8, 2017
  • Breakfast Talk with Tagbilaran's Finest Oct 8, 2017
  • Exploring the Cafe Scene of Tagbilaran Oct 7, 2017
  • Yoga for 60+ Students at the University of Bohol Oct 4, 2017
  • Chocolate Overload at Dalareich Chocolate House October 2, 2017
  • Talk on Philosophy and Spirituality to 12-Graders at the University of Bohol Sep 27, 2017
  • Celebrating the International Day of Peace Sep 23, 2017
  • Judging a Student Debate at the University of Bohol Sept 15, 2017
  • Fitness Workout with Chie at Bohol Tropics Resort Sept 13, 2017
  • Modified Ashtanga Primary Series by Jing Yoga, Tagbilaran Sept 12, 2017
  • Tagbilaran Revisited Sep 7-12, 2017
  • Hello Tagbilaran! June 19-25, 2017

  • Ubay
  • Goodbye and Thank You, Ubay Nov 14-Dec 13, 2017
  • Visiting the Ubay Stock Farm Dec 8, 2017
  • Exploring Cambugsay Healing Hills with Lars Jensen Nov 22, 2017
  • Visiting Ubay Green Park Nov 18, 2017
  • The Ride to Sinandigan Boardwalk and the Yamashita Treasure Hunt Nov 18, 2017
  • Ubay in a Nutshell Nov 17, 2017
  • In Search of the Next Destination Nov 14, 2017
  • 2 Days in Ubay July 1-3, 2017
  • Currency Converter

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