Shucking roasted cacao beans in Mastatal, Puriscal, part of the process of chocolate making in Costa Rica. The difference between cacao and cocoa: cacao is the bean, cocoa is the product that is made from it.
In this small farm in the hills of Puriscal (southwest of San José), the entire chocolate making process is done by hand.
In the photo two volunteers help the owner of the farm (left) shuck the cacao beans. Volunteers also have a hand in the picking, fermenting and roasting of the cacao bean.
Things you didn’t know about cocoa:
1. Theobroma cacao is the scientific Latin name given to the cacao trees
2. Cocoa trees are native to the tropical region of the Americas.
3. Cocoa trees need to grow in hot and damp climates between the latitudes 20° North and 20° South of the Equator.
4. There are three different main cocoa varieties: Forastero, Criollo and Trinatorio.
5. Cocoa trees need to be planted in the shade of tall trees to protect them from direct sunlight.
6. Often cocoa trees planted amongst mango, plantain and papaya trees.
7. The soil (or terroir, as in wine-making) influences the flavours of the cocoa beans.
8. It takes 3 to 5 years before the cocoa tree bears fruit.
9. Each tree produces around 1,000 beans a year, only enough to make just 4 bars of chocolate.
10. The difference between cacao and cocoa: Cacao is the bean. Cocoa is the product that is made from it.
11. Cocoa production is still all done by hand: planting, irrigating, harvesting, fermenting and drying.
12. Over 70% of the world’s cocoa now comes from West Africa,
13. The UK is the world’s largest “chocolate” consumer with annual average consumption per capita of 11.5 kg
14. Amsterdam is the world’s most important cocoa port: 500,000-600,000 tonnes of cocoa go through the port each day.
15. Indigenous Aztecs, called cocoa xocolātl (shuck-O-lahtl) in their native tongue,
16. Xocolātl is a compound word composed of xocolātl, meaning “bitter”, and atl, meaning “water”