Agapey Chocolate Factory


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Types of Cacao (Cocoa Beans)

There are about 20 known varieties of the cacao tree but hundreds of hybrids. For chocolate making, there are 4 types of cacao trees that are cultivated:

Forastero ("foreign")

  • discovered in the Amazon jungle primarily cultivated in Africa but also in some parts of Central and South America
  • the tree grows fast and has a high yield and is very resistant to disease
  • considered "bulk" cocoa: it is used as a base to be blended with superior types of cacao such as the criollo, nacional and trinitario

Criollo ("of the new world")

  • found in Central America and some parts of the Caribbean
  • about 7%f the world's production is criollo.
  • low yields, fragile, difficult to cultivate
  • the most rare and sought after of all the cacao varieties as it produces "very fine" grade chocolate sought after by high end chocolatiers to produce artisan chocolate.

Nacional also known as "Arriba Nacional Cacao" is a form of criollo

  • mostly cultivated in South America west of the Andes.
  • fragile and is prone to disease and difficult to grow
  • sweet floral aroma and very little bitterness
  • It is creamy and strong.

Trinitario ("from Trinidad")

  • accidental cross-fertilization of criollo and forastero cacao trees in Trinidad around 1730
  • hybrid combining the superior taste of the criollo bean with the resilience of the forastero bean
  • cinnamon spiciness
  • Central and South America and Asia

Bulk Beans vs. Flavor Beans

From these main 4 types of trees, there are 2 main categories of cacao (or cocoa beans).

Bulk Beans - Forastero

  • ~90% of all commercial cacao
  • West African country of Côte d'Ivoire is the largest producer of cacao
  • Ghana is second largest producer

Flavor Beans - Criollo, Trinitario, Nacional

  • ~5-10% of all commercial cocoa
  • found in Ecuador, Colombia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Grenada and some Caribbean and Latin American countries.


The flavor of the cocoa bean is dependent on a variety of factors:

  • type or variety
  • soil
  • temperature
  • sunshine
  • rainfall
  • process of how the beans are dried and fermented

The forastero cacao's poor taste was one of the reasons that candy bar manufacturers started to add so much milk and sugar to their chocolate flavored snacks. The other reason for using forastero is the high cost of criollo, trinitario and nacional cacao.

Single Source Origin

Specialty chocolate made with cocoa beans from one single region or more commonly termed "single source origin" offers a different chocolate experience. One can compare the aromas of the different varieties and enjoy different flavors like fine wine unlike the mass marketed ordinary chocolate which are made with mostly forestero cacao beans from several regions and with more than one cacao variety.

Like wine, chocolate reflects the distinct flavors of its region.


Want to Know More?

Visit the links below for more insightful information:

Different chocolate flavors and its regions - All chocolate

About Cacao Beans, Cocoa and Chocolate - Cacaoweb

Chocolate Terminology & Definitions - Xocoatl

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate - A Sweet Life

Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention - Cleveland Clinic

Historical Facts & Dates on Chocolate - Chocolate Month Club



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Hincks Street,
Bridgetown, St. Michael
Barbados, West Indies
Tel: 246-426-8505

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