Learn About Cacao

Cacao vs Cocoa

Cacao vs Cocoa

Cacao beans must undergo several processes after harvesting before they are ready to be made into different products. After harvesting, the cacao beans are allowed to undergo a fermentation process. This process is necessary for the development of the colour and flavour of the cacao, as well as the bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and antioxidants. The cacao beans are then allowed to dry out thoroughly. Once the cacao beans have finished fermenting and drying, they are ready to be made into many products, such as cacao nibs, cacao paste, cacao butter and cacao powder. An optional step is to heat...

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Different Types of Cacao Product

Different Types of Cacao Product

Cacao beans that have been harvested, fermented and thoroughly dried are ready to be processed into a variety of different products. These cacao-based products can each be used in many different ways. They can also be processed further in other ways, such as by undergoing roasting or other heat-treatment in preparation for chocolate-making or other cocoa-based products. Cacao Nibs Cacao nibs are made from fermented and dried cacao beans, which are de-hulled then broken into smaller pieces. As they contain the whole cacao bean, they are packed with plenty of antioxidants and bioactive compounds and possess the full flavour the...

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The Different Varieties of Cacao

The Different Varieties of Cacao

Wild cacao trees have spread from the Amazonian region from which they originated and have been heavily domesticated for human trade and consumption. Cacao trees can be categorised based on the region they were grown in, how they were processed, and other qualities, including shape and size of the bean, oil content, aroma, and more1. They are also categorised based on their biological varieties1, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and unique properties. The three major varieties are Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario1,2. Criollo cacao trees, loosely known as “native” in Spanish, are the closest related to the original cacao trees from...

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How does cacao work?

How does cacao work?

Cacao contains many bioactive components and essential minerals that interact with our natural biochemical pathways to provide many health benefits. Scientific studies have shown that these compounds assist with cardiovascular health, mental health, immune health, bone health, metabolic health, skin health, mental health, and more. Together, these compounds work to elevate mood, enhance cognitive function, support the immune and cardiovascular systems, boost metabolic function, and improve nutritional health. Polyphenols and Flavanols Flavanols are a group of secondary metabolites found in cacao beans and are mainly responsible for the bitter flavour of cacao1,2. The most important flavanols in cacao are the...

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Cacao fermentation explained

Cacao fermentation explained

There are many factors that will affect the colour, flavour, and contents of the cacao beans. These include the variety of cacao tree, the location of the tree, soil conditions, and the fermentation process. Fermentation is one of the most important post-harvest processes for cacao beans as this is when the compounds responsible for the flavour of cacao and its brown colour are able to develop1–4. Without this process, dried cacao beans would be grey in colour, bitter and not possess the characteristic “chocolate” flavour for which it is known5. While fermentation reduces the bitterness of the cacao,3,4 it also...

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How does cacao grow?

How does cacao grow?

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) trees grow only in tropical environments with most plantations today being in Africa, South East Asia, Central America and South America1. Majority of cacao tree growth is concentrated in a region called the “Cacao belt,” which is anywhere within 20 degrees north or south of the Equator belt2,3. Not only are these conditions crucial for the growth of the tree itself but they are also the prime conditions for the midges that naturally pollinate these trees4. In the wild, they grow as understory trees, shaded by denser, taller trees around them. Today’s domesticated trees can be grown...

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