Raw Cocoa Beans

Raw Cocoa Beans

Raw cocoa beans – grown, fermented, and dried in Vanuatu

Whole cocoa beans in their shells.
Grown in Vanuatu without synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. Purchased from growers at a fair price.

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Read on for some more information about our cocoa beans:

Why do we use Forastero cocoa beans?

There are two main varieties of cocoa: Forastero, and Criollo. We sell Forastero beans, which have several advantages over the rarer and more delicate Criollo variety. They include:

More antioxidants.
Raw Forastero beans have amazingly high levels of antioxidants – substantially more per serve than either red wine or green tea [1]. It is the antioxidants which produce Forastero beans’ characteristic dark purple-brown colour, and their tendency towards bitterness and astringency. By contrast, Criollo beans are pale in colour, and lower in antioxidants [2].

Less need for harmful pesticides.
The antioxidant chemicals found in cocoa beans are produced by the tree (Theobroma cacao) to protect itself against the harmful effects of insect attack and fungal infections. Generally speaking, trees that have higher natural resistance to pests and diseases require less treatment with chemical insecticides and fungicides. Hence, it is more feasible to grow Forastero trees organically than Criollo trees.
Tava supports, promotes, and rewards organic agriculture, with the goal of making our products safer for you.

A true chocolate flavour, with a long finish.
If you want “strawberries and cream”, try eating strawberries and cream … or criollo cocoa beans [3]. Forastero beans – when roasted – produce a true chocolate flavour, with a length of finish that Criollo beans simply can’t match. Why? It’s tannins that produce long-lasting flavours in both wine, and chocolate. Criollo beans are renowned for their lack of tannins – as well as their ability to taste like (seemingly) everything other than chocolate (including strawberries and cream!).

Shelf Life

There are three main characteristics that give our cocoa products a very long shelf life. They are:

  1. Moisture content
  2. Fat stability
  3. Antioxidants

(NOTE: How you store your nibs will also affect their shelf life. They will keep best in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight).

  1. Low moisture content inhibits decomposition and the development of moulds. Our cocoa beans and nibs have a moisture content of about 6.5% or less, which, according to the experts is ideal [4]. In fact, low environmental humidity was one of the reasons we chose our current location.

  2. The fat in cocoa nibs is highly saturated, and therefore chemically stable. Stable fats (like cocoa butter) are solid at room temperature. Stable fats are not prone to rancidity, nor are they damaged by exposure to high (cooking) temperatures. Cocoa nibs are approximately 55% fat. Of this fat, about 60% is saturated fat.

  3. Rancidity in fat is caused by oxidation. Oxidation is inhibited by antioxidants. As explained above, cocoa is an amazingly rich source of antioxidants.

To Roast, or Not to Roast?

The main reason to roast cocoa beans is to develop the classic chocolate flavour, which is produced as a result of Maillard or “browning” reactions. Maillard reactions occur within many foods when heat is applied. The reactions take place between amino acids and sugars, and result in the production of flavour molecules. It has been established that cocoa beans contains about 500 different aromatic compounds that contribute to the unique flavour of chocolate.
Perhaps the only reason not to roast is to preserve as many antioxidants as possible in the cocoa.

Roasting Hints and Tips
The main goal with roasting cocoa beans is to produce a result that tastes good to you! There is no magic formula, and no such thing as a “perfect” result. (Afterall, what is “perfect” will depend entirely on the taste of each individual).
The easiest way to roast a small quantity of beans is in the microwave. For your first trial, place one or two dessert spoons’ worth of beans in a single layer on a plate. Microwave on medium for a few minutes, stopping for a taste-test every 30 seconds or so. The “roast” is finished whenever you’re pleased with the result – but you know you’re on the right track if your kitchen starts to smell like chocolate cake!
If you prefer to use a conventional oven, try roasting up to 1 kilogram of beans in a casserole dish. Set the oven to about 180ºC, and roast for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
Remember – your nose and your taste buds are the best guide.

We hope you enjoy your nibs, and would love to hear any feedback you’d care to offer.

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[1] Lee KW, Kim YJ, Lee HJ, Lee CY. Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry – 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7292-5.
[2] Cakirer, M. Color as an indicator of flavonol content in the fresh seeds of Theobroma cacao, The Pennsylvania State University, 2003 http://guiltinanlab.cas.psu.edu/Publications/Cocoa/Melisthesis.pdf
[3] Rast, A. review of Amedei – Chuao, online at: http://www.seventypercent.com/chocop/bar_detail.asp?ID=166
[4] Minifie, B.W. Chocolate, Cocoa, and Confectionery – Science and Technology, Aspen, 1989

The Cocoa Communiqué

Lang & Sam meet some cocoa growers in a remote part of Vanuatu

Three reasons not to grow cocoa commercially in Australia

Sam becomes one of 500 million people to catch malaria in 2005

Some popular milk chocolate
contains less than 1% cocoa mass.
That’s just 3 cocoa beans
per 250g block!