Cocao starts its very simple and peaceful life growing in large PODS on a cocao tree!
The Theobroma Cocao tree (meaning; food of the gods) originally placed its routes in the sub tropical climates of South and Central America.
Explorers found its hidden secrets and discovered its wonderful luxurious taste! The seeds were sailed across the globe to other sub tropical climates and Cocao production started to grow….literally!
Cocao trees can produce up to 25 cocao pods, with each POD encasing at least 40 cocao beans, but they can easily hold up to 60 beans!
It takes 400 cocao beans to produce 800g of chocolate.
Cocao beans are protected by a rich, white thick substance; known as cocao butter.
Cocao butter is used in the chocolate making process and is an integral part of chocolate production.
After the cocao PODs have been harvested, they are opened by hand and the delicate cocao beans are scooped out and separated from the butter.
The three MAGIC beans!
There are three main varieties of Cocao beans; although there are thought to be many more varieties, the following are the main three recognised in the world of Chocolate.
Chocolate makers will often use a blend of Cocao beans, many favouring a mix of the below three.
Trinitario (The Hybrid)
Nope this is not a spell from Harry Potter!
This variety is actually a hybrid of the Criollo and Forastero beans.
Originating in Trinidad, it is now widely harvested for chocolate producers all over the world.
Trinitario is a perfect mix of two beans and has a powerful taste perfect for producing most type of chocolate.
Criollo (Means; Local origin)
A temperamental bean known for being hard to yield and harvest, the Criollo bean has been harvested since the prehistoric era. A rich flavoured bean which tastes less bitter than other varieties, often referred to as the luxury cocao bean.
Criollo beans are typically favoured by artisan chocolate makers. RAW or artisan chocolate bars will often contain Criollo beans.
Criollo beans are supposed to be one of the best cocao beans in terms of taste and they are highly regarded in the world of chocolate. If you can get your hands on them!
Forastero (Means; Outsider)
The Forastero is easier to cultivate and offers a good yield.
Due to its high yield it is often used to make mass produced chocolate. The Forastero offers a strong and earthy flavour and represents nearly 85% of the worlds cocoa production.
Dark chocolate cocao beans!
Criollo and Trinitario are referred to as “fine” cocoa beans. With flavours such as; Aromatic or smooth with fruity, raisin, floral, spicy, nutty, molasses, and caramel notes.
Due to their robust, fruit flavours, they are typically used to manufacture Dark Chocolate.