Cocoa Bean Varieties in india is a very interesting topic for discussion. In all my travels across cocoa farms in India, most farmers nervously and curiously point out to a slender long cocoa pod or a purple colour pod and ask if this is criollo cacao beans. For starters, criollo is considered a variety of cacao which commands a premium due to better flavour and limited availability. We like the hope with which they expect a positive reply. However, we disappoint him on most occasions. There is a lot more to this than what meets the eye. A bit of history, trade, lack of research, knowledge, colonialism and convenience has lead people to believe the myth that there are 3 cocoa varieties namely Criollo, Trinitario and Forestero. The truth is that these are just mere historical groupings based upon geographies that they were attributed too. These are not genetic varieties. Each of these groups historically created for the convenience of trade have multiple specific genetic varieties which offer specific flavour profiles and physical characteristics. They have not been researched in great detail yet across the globe. Studies are ongoing and have been initiated but we are far from near the end. It is assumed that there would be more than 10 families into which each of the several distinguishable varieties can be slotted into. Each country has several hybrids they have developed which has a fairly large development cycle comprising many years. This makes global mapping a bit of a challenge.
On a typical cocoa farm in India (and most places globally) you would see 3-4 different genetic varieties of cocoa (attached picture). In India, most of the varieties will be from the assumed forestero group, which is considered to be a variety best suited to make industrial chocolate (we dont believe 100% of that!). So when some one says “We have traces of South American cacao in my farm”, you can respond by saying “Of course cacao is not native to India and they came in from South America!” Post that, you could check if the cacao farmer is aware that these three names were trade names and they do not indicate cacao varieties. The fact is that even if there is 2-3 % of criollo group of cocoa in a farm, it is not enough to make a difference in the entire lot. And, before you might ask, there is never enough of the coveted groups in a single farm to process a full batch of fermentation. This is one reason why micro batch fermentation is bound to become a popular trend going forward.
The rightful question however is how much of that meaningful trace (of criollo) have they got in their Indian cacao farm? The answer is very clear that not much! It’s best to start referring to Indian cacao beans as “Indian” rather than any of these not so useful and relevant names! Be proud of what the Indian varietals are capable of reaching, be original and play to our strengths rather than say that our cocoa has some of the other traits ! Our Kocoatrait chocolates are made using a blend of various farms! Click: https://cocoatrait.com/product-category/shop/kocoatrait-chocolates/ Evaluate our signature 4 day Bean to Bar certification program at: https://cocoatrait.com/product/4-day-micro-batch-bean-to-bar-chocolate-making-course-cocoashala-chennai-india/
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