Where do cacao beans grow?

If you’re in the US, unless you move to Hawaii (not a bad idea!) it will be impossible to find truly local cacao or chocolate unless you’re extraordinarily committed to growing it yourself. Cacao beans grow in warm, tropical climates within 20 degrees of the equator. Cacao originated in the Amazon basin, though the top 5 cacao growing nations (highlighted in blue on the map above) in recent years are:

  1. Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa

  2. Ghana, West Africa

  3. Indonesia, Southeast Asia

  4. Nigeria, West Africa

  5. Cameroon, West Africa

What does Cacao Content (% Cacao) mean?

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As chocolate's reputation for being a superfood grows, we've seen numerous references to the cocoa health equation: higher percentage cocoa content = healthier.

Unfortunately, this isn't always true. Percentage of cacao content is a good indicator for where to start. But, it can be comprised of processed cacao "parts." Not all of these parts are created equal in terms of health effects. 

How does Chocolate Grow?

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My friend Gareth rather famously claimed, as have many others I’m sure, that chocolate is a vegetable because it comes from a bean. He’s not terribly far off. Cacao (aka cocoa, from which chocolate comes) is a tree fruit and the bean is actually a seed of the fruit. So, while money may not grow on trees, it’s not a far stretch to say chocolate does!