The different varieties of the species
Theobroma cacao L.
There are about 20 known varieties of the Cacao plant, but only three are
commonly used in making Chocolate.
There seems to be evidence that these are really categories containing a
number of different sub-varieties but perhaps the sub varieties are just
('foreign' in Spanish because it is the African cultivar) is most common --
80% to 90% of all commercial Cacao comes from this plant. It has a high yield
and is very resistant to disease. Not classified as "Fine Grade", this Cacao
is used as a base to be blended with superior types of Cacao. Perfumed aroma
with a fruity and bitter taste. The Amelonado form of Forastero is most often used. It is rather mild and in
some cases can be unpleasant.
- Crillo ('native' in Spanish,
because it is the Venezuelan variety) is cultivated in small quantities in the
original Cacao areas, especially in Venezuela. Traditionally the most rare
and sought after of all the Cacao varieties, it produces "very fine" grade
Chocolate sought after by some of the very high end Chocolatiers. Yields are
low and the tree is fragile. Only 5% to 10% of the world's production is
Crillo. It has more Theobromide than any other
variety and therefore this is the variety that is sometimes suggested to
contain caffeine. A small bit of it is sometimes mixed in to a large batch of
the Forastero. The famous Ecuadoran Nacional
is a form of Crillo. It is creamy and strong.
Easily detectable sweet aroma, almost no bitterness, delicate taste.
- Trinitero, which is grown almost
exclusively in the Antilles, is a hybrid of the two other varieties and
combines the best aspects of both. It accounts for 10% to 15% of world
production. It has greater resistance to disease and damage than Crillo and many plantations that specialize in fine grade
Cacao have been switching from Crillo to Trinitero. It produces generally excellent Cacao, being
used more often in "very fine" grade Chocolate. Fruity aroma and slightly
acid. It is spicy and sharp.
Legend says that in the
late 17th century a Spanish plantation of Crillo on
the island of Trinidad, was destroyed by a hurricane. Assuming all the trees
to be dead, it was replanted with Forastero; but
spontaneous hybrids appeared, creating fortune out of the disaster.
If you taste the three varieties side by side, you will discover very distinct
differences! I strongly prefer the Trinitero and am
not very fond of the Crillo at all.
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