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The factors that influence the quality of the cocoa bean

The main factor is of course the bean variety.

Up until a few years ago, there were only 3 cocoa varieties:

  • the criollo, which gives a delicate flavour to the chocolate if it is well fermented. However, the criollo also has a low yield per hectare and is sensitive to disease;
  • the forastero that has a slightly more bitter taste, bigger fruits and better resistance to disease;
  • and the trinitario, which is a combination or hybrid of the other two varieties.

The farming practices of the cocoa farmer also influence the quality of the bean. So things like the distances between the trees, shadow trees, fertilization, pruning or cutting of branches etc. also play a role.

The fermentation and drying of the beans.

One can even add the storage conditions of the dried beans.

Recently a new classification of the cocoa varieties, based on DNA analysis, shows around 10 varieties.