Varieties of Cacao beans
Do you associate Cacao with your childhood? Is it a drink your mother or grandmother used to give you? Or maybe you associate it with the image of a girl sitting on the window, staring into the distance, wearing warm socks and a sweater… Ah, what a nice picture!
Whatever your associations are, I want to take you into mysterious and fascinating world of Cacao beans.
In our store we have Cacao from various regions of South America and Africa. As you can probably guess, each type is different! It differs in taste, smell (for wine lovers: nose!), appearance. First of all, however, it differs in the type of beans from which it was made.
„Wise minds” have distinguished three main types of cacao beans: Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero (each of them occurs in various species combinations, so we will only discuss the basic ones).
Criollo is a type that is found mainly in the areas of former Mesoamerica and areas around the Caribbean. After reading many works and textbooks on cocoa farming, I come to the conclusion that Criollo in free translation simply means “our” or “local”.
Beans of this type have little pigment, so they do not have an intense color, and they do not need long fermentation.
In the taste and smell we can sense a note of caramel, sweet honey and fresh nuts.
Forastero means (in my translation) “non-native” in relation to other Amazonian varieties (including hybrids resulting from the crossing of the African beans Amelonado with Criollo and other crosses and „foreign” types).
Forastero beans can reach a very dark color and, when properly fermented, give a rich and deep chocolate flavor and aroma.
Trinitario is the name of the beans that are made from the combination of Criollo and various types of Trinidadian cacao. Highly valued in the chocolate industry for its sweet, floral and fruity notes.
An interesting fact is that taste characteristics are hereditary and even after crossing two types, the dominant one transmits its notes. Amelonado Cacao from West Africa has been adapted to the conditions in Malaysia (grain more resistant to diseases), which has lost its original taste and aroma.
You may come across the term “fine/flavor cocoa“, which is a classification of Criollo and Forastero beans, which are grown on a smaller (not mass-produced) scale.
However, is all this information really important for a true Cacao Lover? Do you wonder, celebrating a moment with a friend, whether this Cacao was created from a hybrid from Trinidad or maybe from the northern part of Venezuela?
My observations and conversations with people show that each type of Cacao tastes and smells differently depending on the person who bends over it.
I encourage you to experiment and talk to your loved ones: ask them what this Cacao smells like, what is its aftertaste, is it acid or maybe with a hint of nuts? You’ll see how many different answers you’ll get.
The most important thing about Cacao is that once you follow your intuition it will satisfy YOU!