• History
  • Diversity &
  • Breeding
  • Photo Gallery
  • Intro
  • Site Goals
  • The Team
  • Geo-Map
  • Acknowledge
  • Search
  • Instructions
  • View Forums
  • Links
  • Get in touch
  • Commercial Contacts
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History of Cacao

  • 1900-900 BC: Traces of cacao discovered in ancient Mayan vessels.
  • 1400s: Aztec empire used cacao as currency, and tribute.
  • 1525: Emperor Montezuma's favorite drink - conquistador Hernando Cortes sent a shipment of cocoa beans to Charles V.. Spaniards first planted Criollo Cacao in Trinidad.
  • 1615: Wedding of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria - french court discovers "chocolat".
  • 1657: First chocolate house opens in London.
  • 1727: Natural disaster destroys most of the cacao industry in Trinidad. Venezuelan Forastero cacao introduced and inter-bred with remnant Criollo to produce a hybrid now known as Trinitario.
  • 1753: The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus coined the genus and species Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao.
  • 1825: First mechanized chocolate factory in Europe, commercialization of modern chocolates.
  • 1830: Trinidad and Tobego third highest cocoa producer in the world.
  • 1960s: Basil Bartley facilitates a large-scale transfer of genebank material from Trinidad to Nigeria, Ghana and Malaysia. Large collections established in Trinidad and Costa Rica.
  • Today: Some 10 million smallholder farmers produce 95% of the world’s annual 4 million tons of cacao bean harvest, worth around USD 4 billion. It is cultivated on over 69,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi) worldwide.



There are three common cultivar groups of cacao beans used to make cocoa and chocolate. The hardy Forastero Group (used in 85% of chocolate), the rare Criollo Group (5%), the cocoa bean used by the Maya and considered less bitter and more aromatic, and Trinitario (10%), a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero known for its aromatic and fruity properties.

Trinitario cacao, considered a fine flavor bean, has flavor notes ranging from spicy to earthy to fruity to highly acidic.


There are three major varietal groups of cacao. The most common is the Forastero and the most prized and expensive is the Criollo. However, the latter has lower yield and is more susceptible to diseases than the former. A third varietal group, the Trinitario, is thought to be of hybrid origin with Criollo and Forastero parents. It is considered to combine the high flavor quality of Criollo with the high yield and disease resistant properties of Forastero.

As the name implies, Trinitario varieties arose as accidental hybridization in Trinidad and Tobago and it is the most common varietal group planted in the country.

Breeding Efforts

The first efforts of improvement of Trinitario cacao were based on selection among landraces of Trinitarios, formed by natural hybridization between Criollos (highly homozyogous) and a narrow range of relatively homogenous Forasteros in Trinidad. This natural population exhibited inter-population heterosis for many of the important yield related traits. Selection efforts in the natural populations in Trinidad based on productivity, pod index and resistance by F.J. Pound, 1933-1935 resulted in the well known ICS 1-100. The best of the ICS clones were distributed throughout the world and quickly formed the basis of the FFC industry in many countries.

A study of economic traits in 154 Trinitario clones from the Caribbean (representing 7 accession groups) at the CRU identified ICS and GS as possessing the most desirable bean traits, indicating the success of these early selection efforts. Early work at the CRU had identified ICS 1, 6, 8, 39, 45, 60, 89 and 98 as the most promising of the Imperial College selections, of which ICS 1 was later shown to possess high levels of resistance to Witches’ Broom disease in Trinidad and Costa Rica; and to Black Pod disease in Costa Rica. ICS 5, 10 and 85 have also been shown to possess low pod indices coupled with high levels of resistance to witches’ broom, with ICS 10, in addition, possessing high levels of resistance to Black Pod in Trinidad and Costa Rica. ICS 95 was one of two cultivated clones that showed a significant level of resistance to all seven isolates of Frosty Pod in Costa Rica, as well as good levels of tolerance to VSD in Malaysia. Furthermore, ICS 39 had the highest butterfat content per fruit among 485 clones studied at the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad (ICG, T). The success of Trinitario cacao and cocoa, in general , has been its vigour, precocity, higher productivity, desirable pod index and tolerance to diseases coupled with good flavour attributes.

Economic Importance

Details needed - have some?

The future of Trinitario cocoa

Could depend on the following...

  • Erosion of the Trinitario stock in many breeding programmes involving heterotic crosses with Upper Amazon material is evident in most breeding programmes. Incorporating the quality profile of the early Trinitario material would be a challenge which would require backcrossing to Trinitario material supported by marker assisted selection to retain the gains. The TSH breeding programme in this respect is unique in that it has successfully been able to maintain quality while improving yield and resistance.
  • Developing self compatible material within the Trinitario cacao through introgressing the QTL for self compatibility to ensure better field performance.
  • Continuing the efforts of the on-going CFC/ICCO/Bioversity Germplasm project which aims to collect, characterize, conserve and utilize the considerable Trinitario gene pools existing in farmers’ fields and in the wild.


A relic cacao tree nestles deep in the valleys of the island of Trinidad in a sleepy village called Brasso Seco. Moss hangs from its branches creating an eerie effect; its ripe pods only hint at their fascinating contents of prized Criollo-influenced beans.

Cacao scientists from Bioversity International and the University of British Colombia (UBC), joined forces with the Cocoa Research Section of MFPLMA and the Cocoa Research Unit (CRU) of the University of the West Indies (UWI), and conceived an ambitious project to promote and utilise the latent treasures contained in the vast acreages of relic cacao still remarkably preserved in Trinidad and Tobago.

The World Bank accepted this project for funding, and with the willing co-operation and assistance of 69 cacao farmers, who have steadfastly conserved these relic trees, the scientists visited the farms to collect leaves, flowers and fruits, record GPS co-ordinates, and characterise the trees to reveal a very diverse population. Pods were harvested and the fermented and dried beans sent to the chocolate making laboratories of MARS, Inc. and CRU for sensory evaluation that identified an array of wonderful fruity and floral flavours, typically inherent in the twin island’s famous cocoa flavour reputation.

Read the full story here!

Site Goals and Objectives

The goal of this webpage is to act as an information portal for anyone with an interest in Cocoa production in Trinidad. It aims to equally serve suppliers and buyers of raw cocoa beans, cocoa farmers, chocolate manufacturers and connoisseurs as well as scientists and anyone else who might be interested both in Trinidad and Tobago as well as internationally.

We hope the information that is accessible through this online resource will help increase the user’s understanding of cacao diversity found in Trinidad and Tobago and provide useful links and contact details for those interested to learn more or purchase some of the unique cacao beans that are found in this incredible cacao diversity hotspot.

The website and sensory evaluation database was created as part of a joint effort of the Cocoa Research Unit (CRU) at the University of the West Indies; the Central Experiment Station of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources; Bioversity International; Mars Global Chocolate, and the University of British Columbia, and was funded by the Worldbank through the Development Marketplace competition.

If you are interested to learn more about the project, the work of the project partners or Trinidadian Cacao more generally, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a representative of the project team.

The Team

Project team members (click to pop-up & enlarge)Some of the contributors involved in this project.

Sampling Geo-Map

Project team members (click to pop-up & enlarge)GeoMap showing some of the many sample areas in Trinidad and Tobego.

Photo Gallery

of Trinidad photos.

More photos coming soon!

Contact us to submit a caption or request removal of a photo.


We would like to gratefully acknowlege the following groups, organizations, and contributors to this project and website;

  • The financial support and guidance of the World Bank.
  • The financial support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • The Cocoa Research Association of the United Kingdom for in-kind contributions.
  • MARS Global Chocolate for in-kind contributions, flavor profiling, and chocolate making.
  • Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs (MFPLMA), Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Cocoa Research Unit (CRU) of the University of the West Indies, Port of Spain.
  • University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver.
  • Bioversity International, Rome.

Search the DataBase

Lookup row(s),     query organoleptic ranges,     &/or search locations;

Search Instructions and Tips

Query Options
xfind exact match (x can be an integer or decimal).
>xreturn rows greater than or equal to x.
<xless than.
x-yan inclusive range, any rows between x and y.
empty field will matches anything for that field.

Search Examples
ID field, or the 6 organoleptic filter fields, E.G.;
5 (in ID)returns just the 5th row.
>2 (in Cocoa) &
<4.7 (in Floral)
returns rows where Cocoa is 2 or greater & Floral is 4.7 or less, for that same row.
2-3 (in Acidity)returns all rows that have an Acidity value between 2 and 3 (inclusive).
Location field: find all trees recorded in a certain area, E.G.;
returns all rows with the selected Location.
Note: Location is to the nearest town - please get in touch for more precise farm locations.

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Community Forums

Includes the following;
- Trinitario commercial resources forum
- Science collaboration forum
- Site comments forum


CacaoNet - aims to optimize and coordinate the conservation and use of cacao genetic resources
Cocoa Research Unit - supports the sustainability of the cocoa sector through management of genetic resources, research, innovation and outreach.

Get in touch

We welcome your comments...

Commercial Contacts & Resources

The following is a list of contacts and resources to assist Cacao producers and buyers;

  • Mr Clement Bobb, of Tobago Cocoa Farmers Association
    635-0865 / house.olando (at) / cacaotovaco (at)
  • Ms Isabel Brash, of Cocobel Chocolates
    cocobelchocolates (at)
  • Mr Anton Doldron, of Cocoa and Coffee Industry Board (CCIB)
    antond1_ (at)
  • Mr Duane Dove, of Tobago Estate WI Ltd
    info (at)
  • Ms Gina Hardy, of Gina's Chocolates
    ginasonia1975 (at)
  • Ms Lesley-Ann Jurawan, of Delft Cocoa Plantations
    lkjurawa (at)
  • Mr Krishna Kadan, of Carlos/Blendos Drinking Chocolate
    691-0909 / 398-9791
  • Ms Catherine Kumar, of T&T Chamber of Commerce
    637-6966 / chamber (at)
  • Mr Jude Lee Sam, of Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Cooperative
    jude.leesam (at)
  • Ms Leigh Lopez, of The Soap Kitchen
    640-5119 / 681-1536 / leigh (at)
  • Mr Gary Matthews, of Friends of the Botanic Gardens
    travellingcompanion (at)
  • Mr Paul Manickchand, of Manickchand Cocoa Estates
    chris (at)
  • Ms Nikita Nath, of Ortinola Estate Ltd
    663-6229 / 663-0245 / info (at)
  • Dr Carlisle Pemberton, of Cocoa and Coffee Industry Board (CCIB)
    Carlisle.Pemberton (at)
  • Mr Kampta Persaud, of Hendelshaft Agricultural Holdings Ltd
  • Ms Astrida Saunders, of Exotic Caribbean Pride Products
    759-5732 / astrida_saunders (at)
  • Mr Jude Solomon, of Hendelshaft Agricultural Holdings Ltd
    659-4048 / 679-9231
  • Mrs Lorraine Waldropt-Ferguson, of Prism Agri Estates Company Ltd
    686-5296 / 754-4856 / lorrie2604 (at)
  • ...

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