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ORGANIC CACAO BEANS

Specialty organic cacao beans is some of the world’s finest – 95% of Colombia’s cacao exports are considered “Fine Flavour” by the International Cacao Organisation. 

Cocoa trees love high temperatures and they need plenty of rain, which is why they thrive close to the equator.

Colombian cacao production is flourishing in departments including Santander, the north of Antioquia, and the south of Córdoba, Colombian cacao farmers mostly grow the high-quality Criollo and Trinitario varieties, as opposed to the bitter Forastero found elsewhere.

The average size of a Colombian organic cacao farm is just 3.5 hectares and with the world’s taste for chocolate outstripping supply, the benefits go straight to Colombian growers families.

cocoa beans or simply cacao is the dried and fully fermented seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cacao solids (a mixture of nonfat substances) and cocoa butter (the fat) can be extracted. Theobroma cacao is an elegant tree that thrives in the equatorial region from Central and South America to Africa and Indonesia up to an altitude of 600 meters above sea level. The cocoa tree prefers soil that is fertile, slightly acidic, and well-drained, but also capable of storing some water to fall back on in drier times. The cacao tree can grow as tall as 12-15 meters in the wild. But to facilitate harvesting, most cacao farmers do not let it grow higher than 4-8 meters. The cocoa tree blooms and bears fruit the whole year-round. This means that cocoa has flowers and fruit on the tree at the same time. In two cycles of six months, thousands of delicate flowers adorn the stem and main branches. Approximately 40 flowers will eventually develop into a fruit. Each flower blooms for only a single day. Full-grown pods vary significantly in shape, texture, and size, and can range from about 15 cm to over 35 cm in length. A ripe fruit typically contains 20 to 75 cocoa beans, each 1 cm to 3 cm long, embedded in a white pulp. cacao beans are very nutritious; they consist mainly of fat (50%) and carbohydrates (25%). In addition, cocoa contains proteins, theobromine, niacin, minerals (including calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus) and vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6.

Cacao Varieties

Criollo

Criollo is used in the very finest chocolates. The Criollo tree is native to Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean islands and Sri Lanka. Only 5% of the world’s cacao production is Criollo. Criollo trees are particularly difficult to grow, as they are extremely vulnerable to a variety of environmental threats. The beans have a white to pale pink color and their taste is described as delicate yet complex, low in classic chocolate flavor, but rich in secondary notes of long duration. Considered to be the “prince of cocoas, Criollo is prized as an ingredient in the very finest of chocolates. In Spanish, Criollo means 'of local origin'. This is a very high-quality cocoa bean and is aromatic and lacks bitterness. The Criollo is used in luxury chocolate but rarely alone since it is very scarce and expensive.

Forastero

Forastero means 'stranger' or 'outsider' in Spanish. The most commonly grown cacao is Forastero. It is most likely native to the Amazon basin. Today, Forastero is mainly grown in Africa, Ecuador, and Brazil and accounts for 80% of the world’s cocoa supply. What makes it so popular is that it is harder and less susceptible to diseases. It has a higher yield than the Criollo variety. Forastero cacao has purple-colored beans and is mainly used to give chocolate its full-bodied flavor. Its bitter taste has a short
duration and is unsupported by secondary flavors, which is why it is often blended with superior cacao. There are many Forastero subspecies: Amelonado, Cundeamor, and Calabacillo. Amelonado cacao is the most extensively planted cocoa of all. Forastero derives its name from the Spanish importer first to import criollo cacao exclusively from Venezuela. They regarded Criollo as the original variety of cocoa, as opposed to the ‘foreign’ Forastero variety from the Amazonian region.

Trinitario

Trinitario is a natural hybrid biological class resulting from cross-pollination. Legend recounts that it first came into existence on the Island of Trinidad after a hurricane nearly completely destroyed the local Criollo crops in 1727. Assuming all the trees were dead, the plantations were replanted with Forastero, but spontaneous hybrids appeared. Trinitario combines the best of the two other main varieties: the hardiness and high yield of Forastero and the refined taste of Criollo. Forastero seeds were brought from Venezuela and cross-fertilized with the native criollo beans, resulting in the Trinitario. The quality of the cocoa varies between average and superior. It is the predominant fine flavor cacao. Trinitario populations are usually variable in pod and bean characteristics because the parents have highly contrasting characters. They can now be found in all the countries where Criollo cacao was once grown: Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Colombia, Venezuela, and in parts of Southeast Asia. They represent about 12% of the world's cocoa production.