Chocoholics, Rejoice: Football-Sized Cacao Beans Rediscovered

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REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Cacao beans

Just when you thought chocolate had reached its pinnacle, a rediscovered cacao bean has chefs downright giddy. And when chefs get all jazzed about a new ingredient, all us regular folks get to reap the benefits.

The rediscovery of a cacao bean—the key ingredient for making chocolate—thought lost forever by U.S. cacao experts has been found again in the jungles of Ecuador, a find that turns the chocolate world on its head. Imagine heading to Europe and finding an entirely new variety of grape used to make a different and exciting wine nobody knew existed. That, experts say, is what we have with this cacao bean. These rare cacao beans mean better-tasting chocolate for all—at least all that can afford these rare and pricey beans.

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Americans living in Peru ventured to Ecuador and found the trees, thought wiped out because of disease. The National Cacao, as the tree is known, is the most genetically pure expression of cacao ever found, making it the best choice for high-quality and intense-flavor chocolate.

What makes this bean so spectacular is the lack of bitter after-taste. The trees boast football-sized white beans, which after roasting have far less of a bitter taste than the traditional purple cacao bean. Football-sized beans? No wonder the chocolate is so good.

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