What are the best cocoa beans in the world?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “what are the best cocoa beans in the world?” with an in-depth analysis of what are the best cocoa beans in the world. Moreover, we will also discuss what makes some cocoa beans out of others the best in the world.

What are the best cocoa beans in the world?

Rare cacao varieties such as Nacional and Porcelana are considered one of the best cocoa beans in the world. The Caribbean island of Trinidad only grows trinitario cacao, a highly flavorful type of cacao developed on the island hundreds of years ago.

Some of the best cocoa beans in the world are:

  • Porcelana
  • Trinitario
  • Criollo
  • Forastero

Porcelana cocoa:

Porcelana cocoa is the world’s most coveted cocoa variety due to its refined flavor profile, a perfect balance of acidity/fruit, and lower levels of astringency and bitterness. Notes of nuts, caramel, and slight spice are evident, with a buttery texture. 

Many of these nuances may not be immediately detected if you regard chocolate as just a quick fix and the tasting is not considered. Many expect Porcelana chocolate to be the most fruity and flavor-packed chocolate experience of them all, but it is the delicacy, balance, and long lingering flavor that ticks the widest range of boxes, however subtle. 

Many palates do prefer the fruit-laden chocolates, mostly made with Trinitario or Criollo cocoa and the added sweetness they provide, but it is the Porcelana that is considered by true connoisseurs as the holy grail of cocoa.


Trinitario is a hybrid between the Criollo and Forastero trees and originated in Trinidad. Legend recounts that it first came into existence on the Island of Trinidad after a hurricane nearly destroyed the local Criollo crops in 1727. Assuming all the trees were dead, the plantations were replanted with Forastero, but spontaneous hybrids appeared.

The new variety was combined with the remaining Criollo trees, resulting in the new Trinitario variety. In the 19th-century Trinitario trees spread across the globe and can be found in Venezuela, Ecuador, Cameroon, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Java, and Papua New Guinea.

Trinitario is the predominant fine/flavor cocoa and is the most likely bean to be found in high-quality dark chocolate today. A particular mention should go to the Venezuelan Carenero and Rio Caribe varieties, which are very highly regarded. An exception is the Trinitario from Cameroon which is generally classified as bulk produce.


The most commonly grown cocoa is Forastero. It is most likely native to the Amazon basin. Today, Forastero is mainly grown in Africa, Ecuador, and Brazil and accounts for 80% of the world’s cocoa supply.

This is the equivalent of the Robusta bean in coffee. Originally from the Amazon region, there are many types of Forastero trees all over the world. While most Forastero is bulk cocoa, there are exceptions, such as the Ecuadorian Cacao Nacional or Arriba Forastero which is used as fine/flavor cocoa.

 In 2015 Arriba Nacional won the prestigious “Cocoa of Excellence Award ” at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, today the National is considered one of the best cocoa available.

Forastero means “foreigner” in Spanish, in contrast to Criollo which is the word for “native”. This distinction was made by the Spanish who at first imported Criollo cocoa exclusively from Venezuela and thus regarded Criollo as the original variety of cocoa, as opposed to the “foreign” Forastero from the Amazon region.


The Criollo tree is native to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean islands and Sri Lanka. Only 5% of the world’s production is Criollo.

Criollo chocolate has a distinctly reddish color and an equally distinctive complex taste which can include flavors of caramel, nuts, vanilla, and tobacco. What the fine Arabica bean is to coffee, the even finer and rarer Criollo bean is to chocolate.

Criollo bars are fairly rare and should be sampled if encountered. These tastes however are fairly recent — two hundred years ago Criollo was the predominant cocoa bean.

The reason for the general scarcity of Criollo cocoa today is the lack of resistance of the Criollo tree towards disease, which is why the more robust Forastero now dominates the worldwide market for cocoa. Today, most Criollo trees are closer to Trinitario than their pure ancestors. The most important Criollos are Ocumare 61 and the well-publicized Chuao, both of which are found in Venezuela. Only very few true Criollo trees remain. 

Which country has the best quality cocoa beans?

Here are the top five cocoa-producing countries in the world:

  • Côte d’Ivoire:  Cote d’Ivoire is the biggest producer of cocoa beans in the world, producing over 2 million tons of cocoa.
  • Ghana:  Cote d’Ivoire’s neighbor to the east, the Republic of Ghana, is the second biggest exporter of cocoa.
  • Indonesia.
  • Nigeria. 
  • Cameroon.

What is the rarest cocoa bean?

Nacional Cacao is the rarest cocoa bean. This bean variety was only recently rediscovered in Peru in 2011. In its purest form, it is regarded as the world’s rarest cacao.

What is the most expensive cocoa bean?

Criollo is the most expensive cacao bean. It is native to South and Central America. Because of its low vulnerability to disease and its low efficiency, it is also the rarest cacao bean and it makes up only 10% of the world’s production of cacao beans.

Other FAQs about Cocoa beans that you may be interested in.

Are Cocoa Beans A Fruit?

In this brief guide, we have answered the question “what are the best cocoa beans in the world?” with an in-depth analysis of what are the best cocoa beans in the world. Moreover, we have also discussed what makes some cocoa beans out of others the best in the world.



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