Not every bean is the same.
A basic distinction is made between bulk cocoa and fine or flavor cocoa (premium cocoa). This is not a botanical difference, but a difference in taste.
At roughly 95%, bulk cocoa, which mainly comes from West Africa, Brazil and Asia, makes up the lion's share of global harvests. This is mostly the Forastero cacao variety. The beans of this tree have a less fine flavor and a sharper, sourer taste. Based on its taste, one Trinitario variety, from Cameroon, is also considered a bulk cocoa.
Above all, the Forastero stands out for its hardy trees which are not very susceptible to disease. They supply higher yields than premium cocoa varieties, and are even suitable for monoculture planting in direct sunlight. For this reason, this is the most common variety planted, and is found in almost every bar of chocolate.
By contrast, only about 5% of cocoa beans harvested around the world can use the designation “fine or flavor cocoa”. Roughly 90% of these come from Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, the Caribbean, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.
Criollo is considered the finest cocoa. It stands out for its remarkable taste, characterized by a pure, lingering cocoa flavor with a gently spicy touch. It is also only harvested in small quantities, making it even more precious. Apart from this, most Trinitario varieties and one Forastero variety – Arriba cocoa from Ecuador – count as fine or flavor cocoas due to their especially fine taste.
Fine or flavor cocoas are often added to a chocolate in small quantities to enrich and round off the flavor, but there are also chocolate varieties made entirely with fine or flavor cocoas. These are sold with an indication of the variety and origin. Often, the cocoa beans used to make them come from a single plantation.
We at RITTER SPORT use fine or flavor cocoa from Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Ecuador to refine eight of our twelve classic chocolate masses, and the organic fine or flavor cocoa from Peru and Ecuador ensures that our 65g organic squares taste good all round.