Coffee Bean vs. Cacao (or Cocoa) Bean - What's the Difference?

When I meet people for the first time, typically the conversation goes something like this:

My new friend: “What do you do for work?”

Me: “I create a direct trade, gourmet snacking cacao.” [I need to come up with a better answer, by the way…] As their wheels turn, I follow-up with “Have you ever seen a cacao bean?”

My new friend: “Yes! Of course.” Looking a little puzzled as to why I’d ask such an obvious question.

Me, rather excitedly: “Really?! Where?”

My new friend, after an awkward pause: “Um, oh! Cacao Bean? I was thinking of a coffee bean. Cacao? Umm…”

Why is it, in a country where the average person eats 9.5 pounds of chocolate per year (ahem, and some of us a bit more):

  • We’ve never seen the main ingredient of one of our favorite treats?
  • We have no idea how it grows or where it comes from?

Over the coming weeks, I will introduce you to the cacao bean, the source for our beloved chocolate, and its origins. Enjoy your first (highly professional) picture of the elusive cacao bean: