Cocoa is a food derived from the dried and fermented seeds (beans) of the Theobroma Cacao plant, which means “food of the gods” in Greek. It’s primarily used to make chocolate. The Mayans first cultivated cocoa trees more than 5,000 years ago and made a ritual beverage from the seeds.
Cocoa has been cultivated for centuries and is a commodity upon which more than 20 million people directly depend on for their livelihood. Consumption of cocoa products are always on the rise.
Typically, cacao trees grow in a zone 20° to the north and south of the equator with the majority of the world crop being grown in West Africa.
The beans grow inside pods on the cacao tree.
There are three widely known species of the Theobroma Cacao plant:
Criollo – Primarily grown in Central America
Forastero – Primarily grown in West Africa and South America
Trinitario – Grown in all cocoa-growing regions
Once the beans have been processed and dried into merchantable cocoa, they are sold by farmers to traders, transported to grinders who make semi-manufactured products. Primary growing regions are Africa, Asia, Latin America and most are grown by small, family-run farms. Approximately 95% of beans are produced on smallholdings under four hectares. Countries which produce the most cocoa include the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, and Nigeria.
Approximately 90% of cocoa production is exported in the form of beans or semi-manufactured cocoa products.
The term "bean-to-bar" emerged from the artisan and craft chocolate movement around 2010. Bean-to-bar manufacturers take great care in selecting their cacao beans with many traveling to plantations in tropical regions to meet with growers in order to establish direct-trade relationships, some have managed to gain access to control the fermentation process.
“Bean-to-Bar” is an approach to making chocolate that communicates added value and a focus on maximizing the natural flavors inherent in the cacao bean. This description recognizes the main ingredient, the transformation processes, and the end product, placing significant value on each factor which contributes to the resulting chocolate. It is generally accepted as a short-hand term for high-quality chocolate with a focus on flavor, crafted by a maker who starts manufacturing with the actual, value-added bean.
The only ingredients necessary to craft chocolate are cacao beans and sweetener.
As Specialty Coffee professionals we deeply value the effort Transparency and Traceability applied to Bean to Bar makers in varying degrees. In the Chocolate Glossary the FCIA has defined Traceability as, “the physical map of the trading process from (cacao) grower to chocolate maker,” and Transparency as, “the willingness to share the map.”
Makers typically use craft or small batch manufacturing methods (as opposed to large, industrial-scale) to highlight the unique flavor nuances in the bean and control the bean’s expression.
Please, welcome our fine selection of Cocoa products in this delicious "Chocolaty" Collection!