When you eat a baceae chocolate, you are enjoying cacao beans sourced from the Caribbean and South America as our chocolate is made with a blend of Trinitario and Forastero beans!
Trinitario came into existence following the near-destruction of Trinidad’s criollo plantation by a hurricane in 1727. Forastero seeds were brought from Venezuela and cross-fertilised with the native criollo beans resulting in the trinitario. It represents about 12% of the world’s cocoa production. You’ll often hear that it has most of the powerful cocoa taste of Forastero but is generally less acidic and bitter.
The word Forastero means ‘stranger/outsider’ in Spanish. They are the most popular cacao beans with its strong, earthy flavors. Forastero represents about 85% of the world’s cocoa production. Forastero is said to have a powerful, less aromatic flavor that can sometimes be bitter or acidic. But this variety results in a full-bodied chocolate that some prefer.
We know there are some who believe Criollo is the best bean variety for its aroma and lack of bitterness, but also because its scarcity (representing less than 3% of the world’s cocoa production.) But when the Spanish named the first cacao they encountered, in Mexico and Central America, Criollo, cacao from anywhere else was then named Forastero. In reality, even Criollo is not native to the region where colonizers first found it. Cacao actually originates in the Amazon jungle, probably from the zone where Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil meet. This means that the vast world of cocoa came from one tiny region.
Since there are fewer Criollo plantations, they have a lower yield because the plant is less resistant to disease. This makes it rarer and more expensive. Perhaps the abundance of Forastero and the relative scarcity of Criollo influence how we think of the varieties. But there are many factors that influence how cacao tastes: the variety, yes, but also the origin, the climate and soil, the farming methods, and its processing techniques. Now you can add another layer of understanding of what goes into that delicious piece of chocolate!