The Origin of Guanaja’s Cocoa Beans

Guanaja, currently part of Honduras, is one of the islands located in the Caribbean Sea. Guanaja is best known for its successful tourism. But, on this 17 km long and 7 km wide island, there is a cocoa plantation. A plantation that, according to scientific studies, is the cradle of cocoa and, consequently, chocolate. These cocoa plants are located in the Ulúa Valley. And although cultivated around the world, the cocoa found in Guanaja remains unique and of very high quality.

Guanaja Cocoa

Being of first stock, Guanaja’s cocoa trees are of the Criollo variety. The criollo variety is to chocolate as the arabica variety is to coffee, which means that the cocoa obtained from the criollo beans is of excellent quality. Criollo chocolate is a little red, with a distinctive, complex flavor. Indeed, it is possible to detect the taste of caramel, nuts, vanilla, and tobacco. In addition, the criollo variety is the finest and the most sought after. As a result, chocolate bars made with criollo cocoa beans are relatively rare. Indeed, global criollo production does not exceed 5% per year. The criollo variety’s pod is elongated with very sharp spikes. The fruit’s surface is rough. It turns orange when it reaches maturity. The beans obtained from the pods are white. We therefore mean clear breakage. The harvest period is usually between the end of the rainy season and the end of the dry season.

The Guanaja Criollo Varity in the World Market

The Criollo cocoa variety is of very high quality.  As criollo trees are low yielding, Guanaja does not fully rely on the exportation of its beans. Indeed, it focuses on coffee, which is one of its main exports, followed closely by bananas. Otherwise, its other resources are cocoa, corn, tobacco, sugar cane, shellfish, etc. Despite the low production of criollo cocoa, Guanaja cocoa can be found among the ingredients of some chocolates. It is exported almost entirely to Switzerland, the United States, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Criollo cocoa from Honduras or Guanaja is a very popular product on the market, given the quality of its beans and cocoa which is then transmitted into chocolate.