In the world of cacao, there are three types of bean varieties: Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. Of these, the Criollo (Spanish for ‘native’) and the Trinitario are classified as ‘fine’ and the Forastero as ‘bulk’, although there are a few exceptions depending on taste.
Forestero beans are a bulk bean, grown predominately in West Africa, but area also found in South America, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Making up roughly 90% of the world market, Forasteros are grown for their large, disease resistant, dependable crops. They have a clean chocolate flavor, though a weak aroma and a strong bitter taste.
The Criollo bean, considered the finest bean variety, is grown in South America’s milder climates and requires rich soil. Criollos are treasured for their aroma, flavor, and low acidity. They are delicate and yield smaller crops than the Forestero. What the fine Arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer Criollo bean is to chocolate. Criollo once dominated the chocolate market, but have been overtaken by the easily grown, bulk Forastero. Today, less than 5% of the world’s cacao beans are Criollo beans, making it the rarest and most expensive on the market. It is thought that less than 1% of the world’s chocolate market is Criollo chocolate.
Trinitario beans are a hybrid of Forastero and Criollo, often occurring from natural pollination, providing a more productive bean with the fine characteristic quality of the Criollo. Trinitario varieties often are considered ‘fine’, but occasionally a farm of Trinitario cacao trees bear more resemblance to the Forestero and do not receive the ‘fine’ classification.
The Criollo and Trinitario beans classified as ‘fine’ make up about 5% of the entire world’s cacao production. They are the most expensive beans to procure and create the finest chocolates.
At Altus, we use only the best Trinitario and Criollo cacao. We aim to bring the most exquisite chocolates into the world, both in bean variety and in ingredient additions. We preserve the fine flavor profiles by creating only Single Origin Chocolate. You can taste the difference in every bite! You will notice immediately that even our dark chocolates lack the intense bitter properties typically associated with chocolate, even at high cacao percentages.