Cacao beans are the primary ingredient in chocolate making, but have you ever wondered where these beans actually come from? Cacao beans typically grow within 20 degrees of the equator. This distinctive growing region is commonly referred to as the “cocoa belt.” And guess what? Indonesia is in that belt!
Cacao beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree which is a fruit tree, whose name means “food of the gods”. The cacao beans, which are technically seeds, grow inside pods surrounded by a white fleshy pulp. The Theobroma cacao tree flourishes in hotter tropical climates (65-90°F) at lower elevations (<2,000ft). It needs a growing area where there is ample rainfall, yet sufficient soil drainage. Because the cacao tree also requires an abundance of shade, it is often planted with other, larger fruit trees (like mangoes) or hardwoods.
This is why Bali mountains are perfect for supplying us with cacao beans!
Cacao beans are raw vs. cocoa beans have been roasted. But what can you do with beans? You can crush them into nibs and use them in smoothies or toppings for granola, yogurt, desserts…
Cacao nibs are loaded with nutrients and powerful plant compounds that have been shown to benefit health in many ways. Unlike many chocolate products, cacao nibs are naturally low in sugar. They’re also a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They’re rich in many minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and copper. Additionally, cacao nibs are packed with potent plant compounds, including flavonoid antioxidants.