What Are The Main Varieties Of Cocoa Beans?

When you buy your favorite chocolate, there is little you know about it, maybe just the origin and the cocoa percentage. Do you know what are the main varieties of cocoa beans?

Cocoa is a plant native to Central and South America. Pre-Columbian agricultural societies learned how to cultivate cocoa and shaped the existing genetic profile of the plant.

Varieties of Cocoa Beans

Generally speaking, cocoa beans come in three main varieties: Criollo, Forastera, and Trinitario.

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In reality, there are many more rare cocoa varieties, just like there are many types of coffees beyond Arabica and Robusta.

Varieties are important but to most of us, it’s better to forget their names and focus on cocoa flavor, taste notes, and aroma.

Ecuador is one of the world’s finest criollo cocoa producers.

Criollo Cocoa Beans (Rare, Famous)

  • Milder, Fruity.
  • Originally from Central America, Venezuela, and Colombia. 
  • Criollo beans possess a rich aroma and fine quality, and are thus considered a delicacy.
  • Criollo has sub-varieties called Porcelana and Chuao.
Forastero cocoa beans represent about 80% of the total supply.

Forastero Cocoa Beans (Volume)

  • Heavier chocolates. Generally commodity cocoa. Occasionally floral.
  • Forastero means “foreign” in Spanish. The variety is original in
  • Most forastera beans are traded as a volume commodity, save for certain quality terms.
  • Thus, this variety represents about 80-90% of the world’s cocoa bean production.

Trinitario Cocoa Beans (Criollo & Forastera Hybrid)

  • Trinitario originates from the crossing of the Criollo and Forastera varieties.
  • The fruits come grow in different colors and yield typically larger beans.
  • Trinitario beans are of a higher quality than Forastera, and more resistant to plagues and fungi.
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