The Three Main Varieties of Cacao Beans


Just about everyone loves chocolate, and we all can’t seem to get enough of it, especially when we seem to be surrounded by it 24/7.

But just like with the rest of our food, the origins of chocolate remain an unknown for most people, who never get a chance to see chocolate bars being made directly from the number one source of their distinct taste: the exotic, tropical cacao bean.

Unbeknownst to most people, there are actually three main varieties of this “Food of the Gods (a true superfood in every sense of the word), even though that word is tossed around too often these days.”

Cacao is an antioxidant powerhouse with high levels of minerals like magnesium, antioxidants and other incredible health benefits, and here are the three main types of it:


Mostly native to the Amazonian region including Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, the Forestero variety of cacao is rounder and melon-like in shape with dark purple beans, high productivity and generally a more bitter taste than the other varieties.


The three main types of cacao beans.

Cacao comes in different shapes and sizes.

This is a fairly new variety, originating from Trinidad from a Criollo cacao variety that was crossbred with Forestero.

It has characteristics of both varieties but higher production than pure Criollo (which is the most rare type of cacao) and is often said to have a milder flavor than Forestero, according to those in the industry.


This is the most rare form of cacao that comes from areas ranging from Mexico all the way down to the Caribbean Islands, Costa Rica and Venezulela where many varieties exist.



The overall volume of Criollo cacao is still low, however, with only 5-15% of the world’s cacao production coming from Criollo beans.

These beans have a longer and narrower pod with lighter to white beans, and while they are more susceptible to disease and weather conditions, they produce a rich and complex cacao flavor that is often turned into chocolate by local artisans.

This type of cacao is a little harder to find but is particularly high in minerals like magnesium as well as antioxidants.

Most people take Criollo cacao in organic cacao powders as a “hot cacao” drink or for use in baking and cooking, but it’s harder to find in America than other varieties.

Source: ‘Cacao its Diversity and Place in Modern Marketing

P.S. You can get a copy of my latest recipe book which includes several healthy cacao dessert and snack recipes by clicking on this link, it comes free with your purchase of Joyfuel cacao, which is a type of “true” cacao made from the rare criollo bean for true chocolate lovers!

This cacao is the best I’ve tried since returning from Costa Rica where I made own bar straight from the pod, click here to check it out.


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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.