The cocoa bean or simply cocoa, which is also called the cacao bean or cacao, is the dried and fully fermented seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids (a mixture of nonfat substances) and cocoa butter (the fat) can be extracted. Cocoa beans are the basis of chocolate
People around the world enjoy cocoa in many different forms, consuming more than 3 million tons of cocoa beans yearly. Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, fermented, dried and transported they are processed in several components.
Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the Equator. Cocoa harvest is not restricted to one period per year and a harvest typically occurs over several months. In fact, in many countries, cocoa can be harvested at any time of the year.
Nutrition and Health Claims
The highest levels of cocoa flavanols are found in raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, since flavonoids degrade during cooking used to make chocolate.
Cocoa also contains the stimulant compounds theobromine and caffeine. The beans contain between 0.1% and 0.7% caffeine, whereas dry coffee beans are about 1.2% caffeine.