What is the right term? Cocoa bean or cacao bean? I have always thought cacao refers to plant, pod, wet beans, dried seeds, roasted. The cocoa I know is the powder in small PE bags we used to bought from nearby sari-sari store. The popular branded versions up to now are Milo and Ovaltine. I was wrong I guess. The two terms are widely use interchangeably. Cocoa and cacao refers to the same thing.
So this is where I always starts, from the beans. It is useless to argue. If we compare it to which is the first, chicken or egg. It is going to be a never ending battle. One side tells it is egg and the other side is making their own stand, the chicken. The bean orginate from plant and the plant originate from bean. I always start from bean when it comes to cocoa processing. It is always ideal to start from a good quality beans.
What variety I choose and from what region? Every variety has its own distinctive flavor. Regional variability also contributes to flavor differences. The two factors should be taken into account when roasting and blending. However, the trader from where I get my beans doesn’t bother about it and I can’t find a supplier who will sort it for me. I know very well the looks of Criollio variety, the most wanted type. I cannot distinguished between Forastero and Trinitario. Even if I could, sorting the three to separate bins will sure take a lot of work. Hmmm…
Whenever possible, it is a good practice to label every cocoa sack with the appropriate variety and origin. This will make it possible for processors to assure consistent quality and create specialty blends.
This is the typical type I am using. I am manually sorting out the too small beans, flat beans, molded bean, wet beans, empty, rocks and other foreign matters I find. The defect I dislike the most is stone. It is doing a great deal of damage to my grinder. Defects are simply unwanted, contribute bad flavor. Wet beans roast slower. Larger beans roast faster. Smaller beans roast slower. Mix them together and and you’ll get a very poor product.