Cocoa beans (Theobroma cacao) are from the evergreen cocoa tree in the family Malvaceae. It is native to tropical regions of Central and South American.
There are three varieties of cocoa beans. The main one is Forastero coca bean. Forastero coca beans are the most usually grown beans. These beans are grown primarily in West Africa and they make up about 90% of the world’s production. These beans are bitter and have a powerful aroma. The other two varieties are criollo (1%-5% of production) and trinitario (10%-15% of production).
Most cocoa trees are grown in plantations with other tree like coconut trees. Cocoa trees begin to bear fruit when they are three to four years old. Each tree yields 20-30 pods per year. After pink and white flowers the pods grow from the truck and main branches. The 20cm in length pods ripen to a golden-orange colour. In each pods there are 20-40 purple, 2cm long cocoa beans covered in a sweet white pulp.
When the pods are harvested and the beans are removed they go through a six stage process which include fermentation, drying and bagging, winnowing, roasting, pressing and grinding. The process makes chocolate for all kinds of products.
Fair trade cocoa is where the cocoa is produce by farmers in mainly developing countries. The farmers have better wages, working conditions and do not work long hours. The fair trade organisation do projects such as health care and education projects, which benefit the farmers and their families hugely.