Exploring Jamaica’s Chocolate & Cocoa Industry

When you think of luxury chocolate, think Jamaica! Jamaica is a tiny dot on the map yet most people around the world have heard of this island nation. This may be due to our reggae and dancehall music, athletic prowess, infectious culture and accent, our food, rum and Blue Mountain coffee, but a lesser known attribute for which Jamaica is renowned is its premium cocoa. Fine or flavoured cocoa beans are produced from Criollo or hybrid Trinitario cocoa tree varieties, which are the main species of cocoa grown on the island. Jamaica is one of 17 countries recognized as producers of fine or flavoured cocoa by the International Cocoa Organization, and only one of 8 countries to do so exclusively. The international cocoa market distinguishes between fine or flavour cocoa beans, and bulk or ordinary cocoa beans. The difference between the two lies in the flavour of the bean. Fine flavours range from fruity, obtained from the fresh and browned, mature fruits, to floral, herbal, woody, nut and caramel notes. The cocoa tree yields approximately 20-30 pods per year. Each of the pods only contains 30-40 beans. It takes 400 beans to make one pound of chocolate, which explains why luxury chocolate commands such high prices.

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