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History of cocoaHealth benefits

Processing cocoa
Making chocolate
Growing cocoa

Four major types of cacao are cultivated around the world today: Criollo, Forastero, Trinitario and Nacional

The Criollo tree originates in Mexico and Central America and gives very high quality cacao beans.  It is mainly cultivated in South and Central America.  The yield is fairly low.

The Forastero is predominantly cultivated in Africa, but also in Central and South America and constitutes approximately 80% of world production of cacao.  This tree grows faster and gives higher yield than other types of cacao.  The Amenolado variety produces delicate, aromatic beans and is cultivated primarily in Ecuador.

The Trinitario is a crossbreed between the Forastero and Criollo.  Mainly cultivated in Central and South America and Asia, its aroma comes from Criollo and its resistance to disease and its productivity from Forastero.

The Nacional is mostly cultivated in South America west of the Andes.  It is prone to disease and difficult to grow, but has an excellent aroma.


Cocoa flowers are tiny and unlike most trees, grow all over both the branches and trunk of the cocoa tree.  Cocoa trees flower all year round.  By watering and fertilising carefully, the trees can be synchronised for harvesting several times a year.
All in the taste

The flavour of cocoa beans also depend on soil, temperature, sunshine and rainfall. You can now buy chocolates made with cocoa beans from a single region and compare the aromas.

These chocolates are often called specialty chocolates and are a remarkable contrast to ordinary chocolate, which is made mostly from cheap cocoa beans from several regions and with more than one cocoa variety.


One of Daintree Estates lush cocoa plantations in Mossman, Queensland

Cocoa in Far North Queensland

Cocoa only grows in a hot and wet climate, which is basically limited 20° north and south of the equator. Within this narrow band of latitude, cocoa growing spread from its original source in the Americas to West Africa and South East Asia, where most commercial crops are grown and processed today.

Far North Queensland’s climate is also close to ideal, but a range of other issues held back cocoa-growing for many years. These included the untested performance of hybrid plants in relation to yield and pest resistance, plus high labour costs compared to those of developing countries.

In the last 10 to 20 years, pioneering work and insightful research on the part of Daintree Cocoa owners, CSIRO researchers and government experts overcame these issues using innovative farming and processing approaches.

The result is what you see today; a small, thriving cocoa industry that is well established in Far North Queensland and produces fabulous single-origin, estate-origin and (from one estate) organically-certified chocolate.




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