The cocoa bean (or cacao bean) is found inside the pod of a cocoa tree. Cocoa trees grow best in tropical heat, taking three to five years to yield pods and with a lifespan of two hundred years, although only producing pods for twenty-five of those years. On average a cocoa tree will produce approximately one thousand beans per year. The Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario are the three types of cocoa tree. Ninety-five percent of global cocoa production comes from Forastero plants. Hence, the Criollo plant produces cocoa beans that are considered to be a delicacy due to their rarity. Additionally, the Trinitario is a hybrid of the other two plants and is often considered to be of a higher quality than the Forastero, but less rare than the Criollo.
Cocoa solids, cocoa butter and chocolate can be made from the beans, which are considered to be high in antioxidants and flavonoids that can promote good cardiovascular health. The benefits of the cocoa bean are extensive, most prominent are their antidepressant qualities but also their energy boosting and weight loss aiding abilities. Mulch is also produced from the hulls of the beans.
Yearly, over three million tonnes of cocoa beans are consumed globally, with market demand consistently increasing. Since 2013, the international market prices for cocoa beans have risen 25%.