While the cocoa tree bears fruit (or pods) all year round, harvesting is generally seasonal. The pods come in variety of types since cocoa trees cross-pollinate freely. These types can be reduced to three classifications:

  • Criollo, the prince of cocoa beans, is a soft thin skinned pod, with a light colour and a unique pleasant aroma.
  • Forastero, a more plentiful type, is easier to cultivate and has a thick walled pod and a pungent aroma.
  • Trinitario, which is believed to be a natural cross form strains of the other two types, has a great variety of characteristics but generally possesses good aromatic flavour, and these trees are particularly suitable for cultivation.

   In the Western hemisphere, strange as it may seem, plantations composed of just one species of cocoa beans are uncommon. Even single trees with all the characteristics of a specific type are rare. Uniformity exists only where cocoa plantations have been developed from the rooted branch cuttings of single mother trees.

   In recent years, cocoa growers have turned increasingly to hybridisation as a means of improving the quality of the bean and making it more disease resistant. Scientists using state-of-the-art biotechnology techniques are also trying to improve the quality of cocoa and its resistance to disease.