Cocoa and Quality

All chocolate products start with the cocoa tree!

In the shade of other trees our cocoa trees begin to produce the finest fruits. Tiny pink or whitish flowers grow along the trunk and main branches of the cocoa tree. These flowers must be pollinated before the tree can produce the pods that contain the seeds - the cocoa beans.

After 6 months when the pods ripen, they are harvested with a curved knife. The beans are removed from the pod with a machete.

The pulp and seeds are piled to ferment for three to ten days. They are quickly dried by spreading the beans out in the sun.
During this time the thick pulp liquefies.

The fermented pulp trickles away, leaving cocoa seeds behind to be collected. The beans are dried by spreading them out over a large surface and constantly raking them. Finally, the beans could be further processed. 


Quality decides on taste and flavour!

The cocoa originally comes almost exclusively from Venezuela.

There are three main varieties of the cacao: Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. Overall, the highest quality of cacao comes from the Criollo (span. “Native, Creole”) variety and is considered a delicacy.

However, Criollo is harder to produce; hence very few countries produce it, with the majority of production coming from Venezuela.

Forastero (span. “stranger”) comprises 95% of the world production of cacao, and is the most widely used. The
Trinitario is a mix between Criollo and Forastero. 


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The Aztec and Mayans of Central America cultivated cocoa trees long before the arrival of European explorers. These Mesoamerican Indians were the first to create a drink from crushed cocoa beans mixed with water and flavorings such as chili peppers, vanilla, and other spices. It was a special beverage reserved for Mayan rulers and special ceremonies.

The word cacao itself derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word cacahuatl. The Mayan used cocoa beans also as currency.

The Maya believed that the kakaw (cacao) was discovered by the gods in a mountain that also contained other deletable foods to be used by the Maya.

The invading Spaniards learned about cocoa from the Aztec Indians in the 1500s and brought this fascinating “new” food back to Europe.

Chocolate slowly spread across the royal courts of Europe, and by the 17th century it was an expensive luxury reserved for the upper class.

The cacao plant was first given its botanical name by Swedish natural scientist Carl von Linné (1707-1778), who called it “Theobroma (Food of the gods) cacao”.


Bohnkaf-Kolonial GmbH & Co. KG

Veit-Stoss-Ring 65

D-24539 Neumünster Germany

+49 (0) 4321 / 556 22 08

+49 (0) 4321 / 556 22 09

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