History of Cacao 12 Where did Cacao make its trip? 2

Hello my fellow chocolate lovers,


I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.


In our last post, I shared about the history of cacao production in Ecuador and Venezuela.


In this post, let me share about the history of cacao in Brazil and the Carribeans, followed by how cacao is widely grown in Africa today.


Let’s start by the neighbour of Venezuela, Brazil.


What’s unique about Brazil is that a christian organization, “Society of Jesus”, took a big part in their history of cacao production.


For those who are not familiar with the term, “Society of Jesus” is a Roman Catholic missionary organization that is considered to be extreme. Their purpose is evangelization, and they had a very unique and forceful way of carrying out their duty.


As an example, during their mission in Paraguay, they moved tens of thousands of Native people to their granted land to monitor their daily lives and the labours they had given out. This labour included the production of tobacco,leather,cotton, and the profit all came to the organization.


They applied this method to Brazil, focusing on cacao farming. They were granted land in a forest around the Amazon river, where they brought over Natives  for them to collect wild cacao. Since the Native people just collected what was growing in the forest, the organization was able to carry out their mission without barely any expenses, and made a huge profit during this mission.


Additionally, shipment to their headquarters was basically tax-free, so this also greatly contributed to their profit.


However, believing that this organization had too much influence over Spanish affair, Charles III expelled the Jesuits from both Portugal and Spain.


After their expulsion, a Portugese state-run business became responsible for the cacao production in Brazil. Cacao production in Amazon basin lost workers due to epidemic and the ban of slavery, and moved their business near the coast of Bahia, located at the South of Amazon River.


Cacao production was also a popular business in the West Indies.


During the mid 17th century, Britain won Jamaica over from Spain, and cacao found in their newly obtained  land were enjoyed at the coffeehouse back in Britain. Although not long after, Jamaican cacao was extinct due to a disease.


Meanwhile, France ruled the Western half of Antilles which included Martinique, Guadelupe, and Hispaniola. They also had an illegal trade system here. This is how it worked:

1.The slaves worked to make coffee and cacao.

  1. The goods were sent back to France to be processed.

3.The processed goods were traded for slaves again in Africa.

Naturally, many factories have opened their doors for its food processing business as well.


In the late 17th century, Dominica in the upper region and Grenada in the lower region really started to invest in cacao production. The amount of their produce was more than enough to meet the French market needs.



Trinidad, located close to Venezuela, also played an important role in the history of cacao as well.


The battle over Tobago between Spanish, Duth, French, and British settled when the island was finally ceded to Britain. The British brought in cacao, and it became a significant resource in Tobago.


But for some reason, the cacao they brought in died out, and they brought in another species called “Forastero”.


Afterwards, “Forastero” and a native cacao that was barely left called “Criollo” crossed, and a new cacao called “Trinitario” was made.


Trinitario had a rich flavour like Criollo, but also had strong resistance to diseases like Forastero. No wonder why this hybrid cacao affected cacao production all over the world.


It is quite ironic how it is Africa, the victims of slavery for the cacao production in South America during mid century, who supports the cacao produce around the world today?


The Dutch brought in cacao to Africa starting off with Sao Tome Island. That cacao spread to Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, and all the way to Ivory Coast. The species they brought in was Forastero, so it was able to spread widely across Africa.


Afterwards, Dutch introduced cacao to Indonesia and British introduced them to Srilanka.By the 20th century, cacao had spread all the way to Oceania.


Phillipine had already got on hands with cacao through Spanish, so America who took over Phillipine afterwards carried on with the business as well.


More than 50% of the cacao produced today is from Ivory Coast and Ghana, containing 80% Forastero, 10-15% Trinitario, and very little amount of Criollo.


Well then is Criollo this legendary cacao from the past that we’ll never get to taste?

The truth is, it is slowly increasing its produce, being supported by those passionate chocolate lovers.


Let’s call it a day now.


That’s everything for the Chocolate history!


With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,


Takanori Chiwata