Cocoa bean & Powder
Cocoa bean & Powder
The process of transforming the cacao bean into mouth-watering chocolate is a blend of art and science.
Cacao is grown on a tree that begins bearing fruit in the fifth year after planting. The plants are protected from the equatorial sun by the shade of taller trees, such as banana trees, that grow above them. Their average life is 25-40 years. Tiny, waxy, pink-and-white five petal blossoms that sprout in clusters on the tree trunk and older branches are where a cacao pod begins its life.
Cocoa Pod Types
In twelve months, a single tree can bear 50,000-100,000 cacao blossoms. Their life is short, not exceeding 48 hours, and on average, only 10 to 30 percent of a tree’s fruit will grow and develop into mature cacao pods. These pods are of several types:
- Criollo – The most valuable, it is long-ribbed, thin-skinned, and initially green but becomes red at maturity. The beans of this pod have a mild, nutty character and are known for their unique flavor.
- Forastero – The most widely cultivated species, it has a rounded pod, which is almost smooth and turns from green to yellow at maturity. The beans are strongly flavored and higher in fat and the tree is known for its heartiness.
- Trinitario – The hybrid of Criollo and Forastero, these beans have an aromatic flavor and the tree is suitable for cultivation.
The cacao bean consists of a leathery seed coat, rich in tannin, which envelopes each seed, and consists of two halves. It contains cocoa butter, proteins, starch, alkaloids, essential oils and various substances, which will release their aroma at the roasting stage of chocolate making. The pleasant chocolate aroma is not at all apparent in the fresh seed. The beans from an average pod weigh less than two ounces. Approximately 400 beans are required to make one pound of chocolate. The cacao tree is so fragile and its roots are so shallow that it is unsafe for workers to climb the trunk to reach pods on the higher boughs. Because of this, they use long-handled steel knives (machetes) to reach the pods and harvest. They use extreme caution not to damage the floral clusters containing dormant buds because they are the promise of future harvests.