Know Your Bean: The Cocoa Bean

informationchoco9All living things are affected by their surroundings. In terms of food this means that one food product will taste different, look different and fetch a different price depending on where it was grown, how it was grown, what the climate was like that year and what the variety, cultivar or subspecies is. Cocoa is no exception and chocolate artisans travel the world searching for interesting new flavours and varieties from this curious plant to make their own special style of chocolate.

 

Almost all of the cocoa in the world comes from three varieties of cocoa plant: Criollo; Forastero; and Trinitario.

 

Criollo:
With only a 5-8% share of global production, Criollo is one of the most prized cocoa varieties. Mostly produced in Latin America, the long growth time produces some of the most complex flavours however the high cost of planting, susceptibility to disease and more specific environmental requirements mean that it is both difficult to grow and expensive.

Criollo produces a rich, fruity, elegant and delicate flavor, reminiscent of the flowers and tea making some of the most exquisite chocolate available. Chocolate produced from Criollo is the first choice of the world's food lovers.

 

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Forastero:

More than 80% of the world cocoa bean production is Forastero. It’s higher resistance to disease and lower production requirements mean it is the choice of industrial chocolate produces and is a bulk trading commodity and is the main crop in Africa and South East Asia.

Forastero has a strong, bold taste that although it does not have the subtitle fruity characteristics of other varieties it has the stereotypical chocolate flavour that the world has come to love. High quality Forastero also has notes of tobacco, cinnamon or even red fruits.

 

Trinitario:

Named after the location where it was first produced (Trinidad), Trintario is a cross hybrid of Forastero and Criollo. With disease resistant properties of the more hardy Forastero and the subtle aromas of the Criollo, Trinitario also has its own unique characteristics drawn from the Caribbean soils in which it is mainly produced.

Sitting comfortable between Forastero and Criollo as far as flavour is concerned, Trinitario often has floral and fruity notes or even a slight woody cedar aroma.

 

 

Origins:

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Asia & Africa

Cocoa is not native to either Asia or Africa and the majority of cocoa produced in these areas is for mass production. This means that some of the more delicate varieties of cocoa do not last, however countries such as Ghana, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea do make interesting additions to the chocolate world, sometimes bringing out citrus, coffee and honey flavours to the mix.

 

 

Latin America

The home of the cocoa bean, new species and varieties are still being discovered. Venezuela has the reputation for producing some of the best chocolate in the world. Criollo cultivars from the region such as Carenero Superior, Chuao and Porcelana, fetch very high prices bursting with floral spicy aromas and a long rich finish.

Caribbean countries such as the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and Jamaica bring out their own unique characteristics such as liquorice, cranberries and tobacco.