Raw Cocoa Nibs

Raw Cocoa Nibs

The edible portion of cocoa beans – cracked, and 99% shell-free.

Raw cocoa nibs are exceptionally high in antioxidants.
Roasting nibs at home will bring out the true flavour of chocolate (and make your kitchen smell like a chocolate factory!)

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Customer Review

“I purchased some of Tava’s raw Forastero cocoa nibs from the island of Malekula in Vanuatu.
Sam, from Tava, was very approachable and easy to deal with and the nibs were delivered in one business day.
The true flavours of the nibs are brought out with a little roasting and have a deep chocolate flavour with absolutely no hint of bitterness. The chocolate taste is fantastic and long lasting on the palate.
This was my first purchase of cocoa nibs and I will be looking to incorporate them into my chocolate pralines.”
Gareth Apsey, Melbourne, Australia

Read on for some more information about our cocoa nibs:

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 nibs.

Roasting Hints and Tips
The main goal with roasting cocoa nibs 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 nibs is in the microwave. For your first trial, place one or two dessert spoons’ worth of nibs 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 the nibs for about 15 minutes. Roast for 5 minutes at 150ºC, then reduce the temperature to 120ºC for a further 10 minutes or so.
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

The Power of Purple!

It is the health-giving antioxidants in cocoa that make the fresh seeds look purple, and taste bitter. The more processing cocoa undergoes, the less “purple” it becomes, and the less antioxidants it retains.

Antioxidants exist in nature to protect plants from cell damage. The benefits of cell protection are passed on to humans who consume antioxidant-rich foods.

The revered Criollo variety of cocoa is relatively low in antioxidants. Hence, Criollo beans are naturally pale brown in colour, and lack bitterness. This lack of antioxidants is the main reason that Criollo trees are notoriously delicate, and difficult to grow.