We all have a particular food or beverage, which from its very smell or taste fills us with love and comfort. This special treat has the power to remind us of days long gone. A simple bowl of tomato soup and a grill cheese sandwich feel me with all the warm and fuzzies. This is the meal my mom would always prepare for me when I felt down or sick. Once served we would spend the evening away watching terrible reality tv and making fun of all the participants. If asked what food or beverage would have the same affect for the average Samoan, my answer would be Koko Samoa.
This comfort drink is made from the local cocoa, which grows all over the islands. It is often slowly sipped on after dinner while discussing the happenings of the day. This scene takes place in my host family’s home in the evenings on occasion. As we sit I enjoy the chatter, but the real entertainment is watching my little host brother look up from his drink dawning a large brown stain all around his mouth.
The drink itself promotes a sense of togetherness as soon as the smell hits the room. The taste, the smell, even the grit at the bottom of the cup will one day be the very drink that takes me back to those small moment sitting in the house with my host family.
The drink is easy to make once you have the koko, but the making of the koko itself is quite the process. Below you will find the steps!
How to make Koko Samoa:
- Once koko pods are ripened pick them off the tree.
- Crack open the pods and remove the koko beans. (fun fact: The beans are actually seeds found in the fruit. The fruit surrounding the beans is sweet and edible.)
- Place the beans in the sun to dry
- Roast the beans (Usually done on a metal sheet placed over hot coals)
- Let cool and peel the shells off the beans
- Crush beans using a mortal and pestle (often handmade from wood) until soft, damp, and mushy
- Once you have full cup of the koko (8 Oz) prepared you can let it harden for later or prepare for drinking at that moment.
How to prepare the beverage:
- Break up the 8 ounce block and place in a pot or teapot filled with a gallon of cold water.
- Let simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours
- Once the koko is evenly dispersed add two cups of brown sugar (or to taste)
- READY TO SERVE
How my students prepare it when in a hurry prior to school:
- Boil water in a teapot
- Break up half of the 8 ounce chunk and place in a coffee cup
- Pour enough water to mix koko into a chunky/gooey concoction
- Pour contents into a large metal teapot with the boiled water and a heap of sugar
- READY TO SERVE