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