Today, Africa is the main overall cocoa supplier, with 75% of the world’s cocoa crop. For the small farms in the many ten thousands of African villages, cocoa cultivation represents an important source of income.
- Criollo, also known as the prince among cocoa trees, produces pods with a very thin peel. The cocoa itself has a very pale color and a unique refined aroma. This variety produces small harvests and is also very fragile.
- Forastero is a stronger type of tree that is easier to cultivate and produces larger yields. The cocoa pods have a thicker peel and a coarser, stronger aroma. Cocoa from the Forastero beans is often called bulk cocoa because it gives chocolate a typical recognizable basic aroma. This cocoa therefore forms the basic ingredient in most chocolates and can often account for 80% of the cocoa mixture.
- Trinitario is a cross of both types of trees and has characteristics of both of the former: it has a strong but relatively refined aroma and, moreover, is very easy to cultivate.
In most African countries such as Ivory Coast, the main harvest lasts from October to March and the interim harvest from May to August.
Fermentation is important since this process naturally removes any of the remaining fruit pulp that sticks naturally to the beans. The beans change color from beige to purple and develop their aroma.
The beans packed in sacs or by container set off to the port, to be shipped to their new destination.