What is Organic Criollo Cacao?

What is Organic Criollo Cacao?

17th Jan 2022

Most people love chocolate. While those who do not really enjoy it certainly exist, they are few and far between. The vast majority people, young and old, are simply in love with the cocoa-derived delicacy. Despite the overwhelming popularity of chocolate around the world, not many are aware of its complicated origins and all of the intricacies that go into the process of producing their favorite pleasure.

The truth is that the world of chocolate is more complex and convoluted than coffee and wine, two of the commonly established “finer things” in life. These specialty crops can take up decades of study for one to truly call oneself an “expert”. And yet, despite a similar level of fascinating intricacy between these finer things, chocolate enthusiasts rarely dive beyond the surface of the most popular store brands to discover a whole world of deliciousness.

At Santa Barbara Chocolate, through our writing, as well as our organic chocolate online store, we strive to make the process of exploring chocolate as easy as possible. In this article, we’ll take a look at organic Criollo Cacao. Once you’re done reading, you’ll know what Criollo Cacao is (considered to be one of the best cocoa beans on the planet), and what exactly makes it so special.

What is Criollo Cacao?

To put it simply, Criollo is just one of the three main cocoa bean varieties. Of course, this doesn’t really explain much to you if you aren’t aware of what each one of these is and how they’re different. Below, you’ll find an overview of the main characteristics of the three main kinds of cocoa beans.


This is actually a hybrid bean strain, a result of the cross pollination of Criollo and Forastero. Some may claim that due to that fact, it’s a “best-of-both-worlds” kind of cacao, and they can argue their point: Trinitario combines some of the hearty and resistant properties of Forastero with some of Criollo’s flavor. However, it requires a certain climate and elevation for proper cultivation, and so it only accounts for 10-13% of global cocoa production.


Commonly referred to as “bulk cocoa”, Forastero actually accounts for 80-85% of the world’s cocoa production capacity, and is the one that you’ll be most likely to find at any given large supermarket. It has become the world’s most widely grown cacao fruit due to its unique robust properties that make it more hearty and capable to withstand greater weather variation like lack of rainfall that can plague cocoa growing regions during this time of climate change.Criollo

Finally, the crème de la crème of chocolate beans: Criollo. This variety is known as the rarest one of the three main ones, and accounts for 2% of the global cocoa produce (and that’s in a bountiful year!).

Organic Chocolate

Knowing about chocolate cocoa bean varieties, their rarity, and differences in flavor is great, but the truth is that all that knowledge will inspire you to go beyond store-bought chocolate from the main global brands. These chocolate bars are usually diluted with milk, emuslifiers, and heaps of sugar, reducing the chocolate-eating experience to an uninspired sugar rush of filler.

Pure dark chocolate with no sugar added. Our specialty chocolate shape allows one to savor the tasting experience of the most intense cocoa solids available in a chocolate. Eating these chocolate chips evolves into a pleasant journey, unfolding exotic flavors unique to the best cacao in the world.

What Makes Criollo So Special?

The main reason why Criollo is so rare is the fact that it’s very difficult to cultivate: Criollo beans are susceptible to harsh weather conditions. Raw Criollo beans are also delicate and floral in smell and flavor, attracting all sorts of pollinators which include some not so favorable pests and bugs. Amazonian moths are attracted to the Criollo floral fragrance and with infestations can ruin an entire chocolate plantations. On top of all that, Criollo cacao fruit don’t produce as many cocoa beans– the low yields aren’t particularly enticing for farmers who want to sell their cocoa beans in bulk.

The factors that make Criollo cacao so vulnerable to pests and environmental hazards are also what makes Criollo so delicious. There is a very mild bitterness to its flavor, with the fruity notes being forward. The aroma of Criollo beans can quickly fill up a room, even from small quantities.

What is a Bean, a Fruit or a Spice?

While the description of the aromatic Criollo definitely conjures the idea of an exotic spice, organic Criollo cacao beans are actually classified as fruit.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Eating Organic Criollo Chocolate?

Eating organic Criollo chocolate is more than a transformative experience when it comes to its flavor. The chocolate nutrition facts have been studied and some potential positive results are: it has been said that consuming chocolate (dark chocolate, in particular) can likely bring about many health benefits, including: healthier digestion, less inflammation, and improved heart health.

If you consider yourself to be a true chocolate enthusiast and have not yet experienced the delicious flavor of organic Criollo chocolate, head on over to Santa Barbara Chocolate and try out our Organic Criollo Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate Wafers today!