FAQ  8: Are coffee and cacao beans the same?

FAQ 8: Are coffee and cacao beans the same?

Posted by Kylie Suich

No they aren't.  They come from two different trees, but the beans at a quick glance do look very similar.  They also grow in similar climates and geographical areas around the world; and some terms like 'single origin' or 'bean to bar/cup' are similar and it can be confusing if you are new to artisan food production.

Coffee trees like to grow in temperatures between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius, in a shady position sheltered from cold or hot winds.  Frost kills the trees, so they don't grow in cooler climates or anywhere it gets to below -2 degrees Celsius.  

In Australia, you will find Coffee tree plantations in our tropical areas like the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland; and subtropical areas like south east Queensland and north eastern New South Wales. 

The Cacao trees only grow within 20 degrees north or south of the equator.  They need fairly uniform temperature, high humidity, lots of rain and nitrogen-rich soil and like Coffee trees protection from wind. So they thrive in rainforests.

In Australia, Cacao trees are only grown in a few places that match their need for rainforest conditions. They are currently grown around Darwin in the Northern Territory; far north Queensland in the Daintree Rainforest area; and in far north Western Australia.  

There are only a few varieties of Coffee and Cacao trees are grown commercially around the world, compared to the hundreds of varieties of wine. However, like wine both Coffee and Chocolate will naturally have a different flavour depending on the climate it grows in.  This is why you see 'single origin' messages - which means the product you are enjoying has been produced solely from beans grown on the same farm / very close geographical area. 

While 'bean to bar' or 'bean to cup' usually means the artisan producer has bought the raw / dried cacao or coffee bean direct from the farmer, then managed all stages of processing the beans in house themselves to produce their final product.  

Both artisan Coffee and Chocolate tends to be named after the area it is grown, as it reinforces the effort taken to ethically source the bean from farmers who earn a proper wage.  So you will see references to Tanzania; Ecuador; Colombia; Vanuatu; Ghana; Madagascar and other countries in the naming of many artisan chocolates. 

In the pic are cacao beans and dried pods, alongside a deluxe Hot Chocolate mixed up by Monsieur Truffe.  They make a wicked Dark Chocolate bar with crushed coffee beans on top that is very popular.  They also make an extensive range of single origin chocolate, along with Birdsnake and Meltdown Artisan - some of which is included in our Chocolate Tasting Boxes. 

Now your curiosity is sated, get yourself some decadently delicious chocolate by shopping our range.  If you are looking for something vegan or gluten free, shop via our dedicated pages - and remember, you can also give me a ring to discuss any allergies you have and I will curate a decadently delicious box perfect for you. Kylie

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