When most people think of fine chocolate, they typically envision elegantly wrapped pieces made by Belgian chocolatiers, but have they considered where the chocolate originates?
Many would be surprised to learn that Jamaica is home to Criollo and Trinitario cocoa beans that produce some of the highest quality chocolate in the world.
Cocoa beans have been transformed into various forms of chocolate for more than 4,000 years and the beans were so highly prized they were used as currency. Until the 1670s, Jamaica was the primary supplier of the beans to England.
The majority of large scale chocolate plantations grow Forastero beans. They’re a common variety grown in Brazil and West Africa, and widely used because they produce high yields that make them commercially more viable for large production.
Criollo and Trinitario beans grown in Jamaica are of exceptional quality, but have a lower yield, making them considerably more expensive. The Trinitario is a rare and exclusive variety, and is a natural hybrid that has a refined flavour, assuming they are processed and transported correctly.
The beans grown in Jamaica are rated as “fine and flavour” by the global International Cocoa Organization. It requires 400 beans to make one pound of chocolate and the average cacao tree produces 20-30 pods per year containing 30-40 beans. The cacao beans of Jamaica command a correspondingly higher price on the market.