Raw cocao beans, fermented. The Wikipedia text doesn’t cover raw cocoa beans, but does provide general information on cocao beans. Experts distinguish between the high-grade cocao Criollo, which are large, round brown beans that have a slightly bitter, aromatic flavor, and the bulk cocoa Forastero, which are smaller beans that are flat on the side and have a dark reddish-brown color and a sharper flavor. Ninety percent of the world’s cocoa is bulk cocoa. Both varieties are also sold as raw beans with or without the somewhat bitter skin. Unfermented cocoa would be practically inedible because of its bitter taste and would not have the typical cocoa flavor.
Cocao beans are very high in fat. Grinding them doesn’t result in a powder, but rather in a paste. In Central America, this problem is solved by grinding the beans together with corn so that the corn absorbs the fat. The powder is then mixed with water (seldom with milk), and the resulting drink is called Pinolillo. Without cocao and only with the ground, roasted corn, it is called Pinól.
You can eat raw cocao beans as a snack, for example, along with dates after a meal. Or you can process them to make any of the following cocoa products: cocoa tea, cocoa nips, hot chocolate, cocoa butter, or chocolate bars.
- Characteristics of high quality cocoa beans: fully ripe, correctly fermented, firm beans of uniform size with a dry weight of no less than 1 g, loose and undamaged shell, light to dark reddish-brown color, readily crumbled, highly fragile kernel.2
- Characteristics of poor quality cocoa beans: unripe and poorly fermented; moldy cocoa beans; strong violet color as a result of underfermentation; purple color when overfermented; slaty and firm kernel as a result of underfermentation; insect infested cocoa beans; flat, unripe, small and broken cocoa beans; germinated cocoa beans; ham-like odor due to overfermentation; smoky odor due to excessively long drying1
Storing cocao beans:
Cocao beans need to be protected against frost and should not be exposed to temperatures over 30 °C. They can be stored for long periods of time, but if the water content is < 6 %, the beans become brittle, and if it rises to > 8 % they are in danger of vapor and mold damage.1
Raw cacao contains some iron and calcium but are an especially good source of magnesium. In fact, only 100 g of cocoa beans contain 272 milligrams of magnesium. They also contain a higher level of antioxidants than processed chocolate and are therefore believed to have more nutritional benefits.
In general, cocoa is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart antiaging properties. Cocoa also contains a high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Cocoa is a stimulant and contains the compounds theobromine and caffeine. The beans contain between 0.1% and 0.7% caffeine, whereas dry coffee beans are about 1.2% caffeine.
The stimulant activity of cocoa comes from the compound theobromine which is less diuretic as compared to "theophylli.." found in tea. Prolonged intake of flavanol-rich cocoa has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits, though this refers to raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, since flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes. Short-term benefits in LDL cholesterol levels from dark chocolate consumption have been found. The addition of whole milk to milk chocolate reduces the overall cocoa content per ounce while increasing saturated fat levels. Although one study has concluded that milk impairs the absorption of polyphenolic flavonoids, e.g. epicatechin, a follow-up failed to find the effect.2
From Wikipedia: The cocoa bean, also called cacao bean, cocoa (/ˈkoʊ.koʊ/), and cacao (/kəˈkaʊ/), is the dried and fully fermented seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and, because of the seed's fat, cocoa butter can be extracted. The beans are the basis of chocolate, and of such Mesoamerican foods as mole and tejate.2
- Transport-Informations-Service. Waren-Informationen: Kaka / Kakaobohnen [Cited June 21, 2018] Available from: www.tis-gdv.de/tis/ware/genuss/kakao/kakao.htm
- Wikipedia. Cocoa bean [Internet]. Version dated June 19, 2018 [Cited June 21, 2018]. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoa_bean