Everything you always wanted to know about Cacao

Like other tree fruits, cacao is infused with flavours from its terroir. Its seeds are full of nutrition and when harvested, fermented and dried with craft, they reveal the unique character of their distinct origins. Since 2008, our Bean Team travels to the rarest places on earth to bring “original beans” to you. Each of our beans has a story to tell and we invite you to taste them all. But for now let us tell you everything you always wanted to know about cacao. 

November, 2022


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What is Cacao?
Cacao is a tree fruit. But unlike apples, pears, cherries – pick your favourite – the cacao tree fruit grows on stems, not twigs.

Why is Cacao so healthy? 
Like all seeds, the cacao seed is rich in living nutrients. About half of it consists of ultra-nutritious cacao butter. The other half is solid and full of magnesium, antioxidants and natural feel-good chemicals.

What makes it so delicious?
You can’t just pluck a cacao fruit from its tree and eat it. It’s a hidden fruit. And once opened (with a dangerously sharp machete), there are seeds inside which all want to become trees, not your dessert. In its pursuit of survival, the seed becomes hard and bitter (life goes this way sometimes). To smoothen the cacao out and make it delicious, real cacao growers go about the complex process of fermentation, allowing microbes to infuse the fruit and its flavours into the seed. Like each other step along the way – selecting a tasty cacao variety, growing it in the shade of other trees, harvesting it when it’s perfectly ripe or drying the fermented beans till they crackle – it requires care and craft. There’s no such craft in cheap.

What defines the flavour of a cacao? 
Cacao’s flavour is influenced by genetics, soil and climate, the harvesting practice, fermentation, drying, and final manual selection.

How many cacaos exist in the world? 
There are hundreds, if not thousands of cacao varietals in the world today, including many natural mixes, industrialized hybrids and local varieties. But we still have a lot to learn, as scientists have only classified a handful.


How are cacaos grouped and classified?
We used to think cacaos fall into one of three groupings, Criollo, Trinitario or Forastero. But as you read this, scientists have already identified a dozen genetically distinct cacao clusters, and – sometimes with the help of our Bean Team – are on to more rare finds.     

How can we preserve the diversity of cacaos?
The Big Candy industry is displacing true original beans with cheap imitations. Savouring cacao-first chocolates is the best way to preserve rare beans for future generations and counteract the damage Big Candy is doing to the planet, farmers and consumers.    

Why is cacao so perfectly suited for sustainability?
The cacao tree is original to rainforests. It is in these diverse, richly shaded environments, where the soil is rich, the air humid, and the cacophony of insects, birds and monkeys constant, that the cacao tree thrives. The resulting semi-wild cacao forests are big stores of CO2, spreading climate-positivity locally and globally. And after just three years, a cacao tree provides its first harvest, taking in CO2 and giving income to cacao-farming families.     

Why “Original Beans”?
Real chocolate is regenerative. And Original Beans is the rare real deal – pure chocolate that‘s as delicious as it‘s good... for people and the planet. Winner of all the major taste awards and a staple in top chefs‘ kitchens around the world, our chocolates are proof (climate) positive that together we can regenerate what we consume. Our “Bean Team” travels into the rarest rainforests on earth to bring original beans to you. Each has a story to tell. We invite you to taste them all.