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Cocoa Beans

Cocoa beans or cacao beans are the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree pods. The trees are native to South America. Particularly, in and around the Amazon drainage basin like Colombia and Venezuela. Mexican Olmecs domesticated such since over 400 decades ago. Consequently, Central America started to domesticate the trees. Furthermore, in Cuba, Africa, and the Caribbean islands. Nevertheless, cocoa beans are edible but they are extremely bitter. Still, it plays a vital role in making chocolates.

Cocoa Bean Trivia

  • The National Cocoa Day is celebrated every December 13th.
  • It takes 5 years for the cocoa trees to produce their first pods.
  • Each year, a cocoa tree can produce roughly a thousand cocoa beans. While that may sound a lot, it can only make two pounds of chocolate.
  • Maya Indians were the first to discover the enchanting properties of cocoa beans in 600 AD.
  • The first chocolate bar was made in Switzerland, back in 1819. 56 years later, the milk chocolate was invented.
  • The Dorchester neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts is home to the first chocolate house in the United States.

Cocoa Bean Buying Guide

Buying raw cocoa beans can be a bit of a challenge as they aren’t found in most grocery stores. Thus, here is a quick buying guide on where to source your cocoa beans:

  • If you’re looking to buy tons of cocoa beans, you should go for the big companies that maintain the presence of cocoa origin. They are the ones that usually ship by containers that carry 25 tons and thus offer the most competitive price. Contracts are usually implemented when transacting with them so that you’ll be ensured to get the right quantity and quality of beans.
  • On another note, if you’re looking to buy hundreds of kilograms, your best choice would be a local distributor. They import cocoa beans in bulk, mostly from the big companies, and retail them to customers or wholesalers.
  • Otherwise, if you only need a few kilograms, or even pounds, you can go for local sellers or bean-to-bar shops. They can also be found here at our Texas Real Food website, and you can order it online and have it delivered at your home.

Then, as soon as you take a look at your beans, you are now ready to check on its quality. Thus, here are some basic guidelines for doing so:

  • Like wines, cocoa beans also have their terroir. Thus, the best ones are really the ones that you like. But, the most popular commercial or labeled as “best” beans are the ones from Venezuela, particularly from the Chuao cooperative and from the plantations along the Lake Maracaibo. Meanwhile, the second-best producer is Colombia. They have a distinct terroir that no other producer can match with. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that they have been growing cocoa trees for hundreds of years. They even won several gold medals at the International Chocolate Awards in 2016. Nonetheless, other countries and regions also provide fine and flavorful cocoa beans. Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana are known for bulk production, though they don’t offer a rich genetic patrimony. South American countries near the Upper Amazon basin like Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela, offer beans that have a larger genetic base, although Ecuador and Peru significantly produce Colección Castro Naranjal 51 or CCN-51, a hybrid variety of cacao tree. Moreover, Central American countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico predominantly offer pure-varietal cocoa beans and most of which are extremely good. Chuno, Indio Rojo, and Soconusco are some of them. 
  • You can sample the beans using a cut test. Beans are cut in half lengthwise to check for defects like molds, slate, insect damages, and flats.
  • Do a taste test. While the percentage of cocoa matters, everything will be down to the taste. As mentioned above, the best ones are the ones that you like.
  • Organic, fair-trade certified, and non-GMO cocoa beans are also available in the market.

Cocoa Bean Production & Farming in Texas

Cocoa beans are sourced from cocoa trees. The beans grow in pods and they’re roasted to become chocolates. The trees thrive in rain forests that are shaded by higher trees because they are not sturdy enough to protect themselves, especially from strong winds and freezing temperatures. While it is possible to grow cocoa trees in Texas, it can be a bit of a challenge since the state has winds, occasional freezes, and an arid climate. Thus, the easiest way is to grow it on a pot so that it can be moved or transferred to a shelter when the climate conditions become dangerous for them. Peats can also help in retaining the moisture of the soil, and stakes can secure the tree, helping it to grow straight and strong.

Moreover, the ideal temperature for growing cocoa trees is between 60-90ºF. When the temperature becomes hotter, you may need to water it twice a day. Otherwise, once a day would be enough. When the tree is one year old, start feeding it with fertilizer once a month. If it falls between November and February though, the tree should only be fertilized once. Then, hand pollinate the flowers when they start to show. Harvest the pods when they are golden red or orange with yellow edges. This is the indication that the pods are ripe. Slice the pod in half and remove the cocoa beans. Each pod contains at least 50 cocoa beans. These beans are then fermented and dried out in the sun for a total of about 2 weeks, if the climate permits. It is during this process that the beans change their color from cream to brown. The cocoa beans are now ready for transport or for chocolate processing.

Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:

Fortunately, all cocoa beans are sold in its purest form.


Cocoa beans are packaged in sealed plastic or paper bags. They are sold by the kilo or by the pound. For wholesale and commercial use, they can also be bought in cartons or full-size jute bags that range from 45-70 kilograms, depending on the origin. 

Enjoying Cocoa Beans

Cocoa beans are certainly edible. However, they taste bitter to the extent that they become unpalatable for some. Traditionally, the beans are processed to make outstanding chocolates. Sugar, cocoa butter, and other flavorings can also be added during the process. Nevertheless, when you remove the shells of cocoa beans, you’ll get cocoa nibs. These nibs can be enjoyed in many ways. You can toss some into your smoothies, oatmeals, or trail mixes. You can also add them to baked goods like breads or muffins. Or, you can blend these nibs and make nut butters!


Raw cocoa beans should be kept in an airtight container and should be stored in a cool and dry place away from sunlight and away from hot and humid zones like stoves, grills, or ovens. While it is best to follow the expiration date on its label, raw cocoa beans can generally retain its freshness between 6 months to 1 year.

Make your own Chocolate from scratch:

Bean-to-bar chocolates are getting its fame nowadays. It’s considered one of the most luxurious treats in the world. Hence, they could get very expensive. But, did you know that you can actually make it at home? Not only that it’s a lot cheaper but you can also take control of the flavor and how much sugar you can add to it. Ask some of the nearest bean-to-bar chocolate shops about getting cocoa beans and you’ll be surprised by how affordable they are. When buying one, keep in mind that cocoa beans will yield roughly 78% of nibs. For example, 100 grams of cocoa beans will produce around 78 grams of roasted and peeled cocoa nibs. If you can’t get hold of them though, you can alternatively swap the weight of cocoa nibs by 50% cocoa butter and 50% cocoa powder. So, without further ado, let’s start making your own chocolate from scratch!

Yield: 4 75-g bars


  • 8 oz cocoa beans
  • 3 oz powdered sugar
  • 2 oz cocoa butter (needed if you don’t have melanger)


  1. Preheat the oven to 129ºF. 
  2. Filter your beans by taking out any shriveled or heavily wrinkled ones.
  3. Spread the beans evenly, in a single layer, onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. 
  4. Place the tray in the oven, crank the temperature to 250ºF, and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  5. As soon as the timer beeps, lower the temperature to 122ºF and open the oven door for 1 minute to quickly cool down. Close the oven door and continue roasting for another 12 minutes.
  6. Take the tray out of the oven and cool it down on the counter for 5 minutes.
  7. Peel the beans using your hand. Gently twist to remove the shell. If you’re doing a larger batch, you may use a rolling pin to crush the beans. Then, use a low-fan blower or hair dryer to remove the lighter shells. It might be messy though! But trust me, it’s worth it.
  8. Using a food processor or blender, mill the nibs as fine as you can. Then, transfer them into a mortar and pestle, and torch the sides of the mortar while vigorously pressing the nibs to get all the liquids out.
  9. Then, find a stainless steel bowl that can fit 30-50% of a deep saucepan. Transfer the cocoa in there and add the cocoa butter and sugar.
  10. Fill that saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and place it on the stovetop to boil. Then, lower down the heat to minimum or turn it off. Place the stainless bowl on top, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water. 
  11. Temper the chocolate. Melt it while stirring it continuously until it reaches 110ºF. Take the bowl out of the stove and cool it down until it reaches between 95-100ºF. 
  12. Test your chocolate by dipping a spatula, spoon, or knife into the mixture. Then, set it on the counter, untouched, for 3-5 minutes. If the chocolate hardens within that time period, and it has become shiny and flawless, the chocolate is most likely tempered. Double-check by trying to break it. You should hear a good snap and your fingers should come clean. If it does, then it is now confirmed that you have a tempered chocolate. Congratulations!
  13. Return the rest of the mixture to the working temperature (95-100ºF) and pour it onto molds or containers. Let it set and enjoy your chocolate bars!



  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 228 11%
  • Carbs: 0g 0%
  • Sugar: 1.75g 1%
  • Fiber: 37g 97%
  • Protein: 19.6g 35%
  • Fat: 13.7g 46%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 21mg 1.5%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 0IU 0%
  • Calcium 128mg 13%
  • Iron 13.86 173%
  • Potassium 1524mg 32%
  • Niacin 2.185mg 13%
  • Folate 32mcg 8%
  • Riboflavin 0.241mg 18%
  • Magnesium 499mg 125%
  • Phosphorus 734mg 105%
  • Manganese 3.837mg 239%
  • Copper 3.837mg 426%
  • Selenium 14.3mcg 26%
  • Zinc 6.81mg 62%

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