Tsorot Cacao

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

Tsorot. Tsirí

Tsorot cacao is a variety of Theobroma cacao resulting from a mix of the criollo cacao and forastero cacao varieties from Trinidad and Tobago. Cocoa trees have evergreen leaves and pinkish flowers. They thrive in hot, humid, tropical climate 0 – 400 m above sea level in soils rich in nitrogen and potassium. The berries are filled with a viscous and sweet flesh and about 30 – 50 long, fleshy grains formed in rows, with a bitter, astringent taste. After five years, he Tsorot variety of tree has a trunk diameter of about 106 cm and can produce between 625 and 4280 kg of cacao per hectare per year.   The average fruit of the Tsorot cocoa variety weighs 565 g, is 17.3 cm long, 9.2 cm in diameter, has a shell thickness of 1.7 cm, contains 35 seeds. 53% of the fruit pods are green in color. The flesh is smooth the pod has an intermediate roughness. Bacteria and yeasts present in the air in the growing area multiply in the pulp surrounding the beans and increase the concentration of sugars and decompose forming an acidic liquid and alcohol. This increases the temperature in the bean, which turns light brown. After double fermentation, the pulp converts into volatile acetic acid and the seed swells. The grains are then dried and reduced in size. About 400 tons of Tsorot cacao is produced annually.   This cacao cultivar is connected to indigenous cultures, mainly in the area of Limón area near Costa Rica’s eastern central coast. It is said that it was used as a form of currency in the pre-Columbian times, and was considered a sacred drink and was very related to ceremonies and considered a product of the Gods. Cacao has a special value for the indigenous peoples, including being used as currency and being commonly used in rituals.   In local culture, women not only inherit the land, but also are the only ones that can produce and prepare the cacao, which in the indigenous kitchen is made with water, not with milk. The special technique for its preparation says that one should not boil the water, only heat it and add the cocoa paste. In interviews with other native people, there is discussion of other uses for the Tsorot cacao. The oils from the seed are used as a skin lotion and can be used to bake cakes. It can also be sold as a separate product, representing a source of income for the Bribri people.   Also according to tradition, the indigenous growers do not use agricultural chemicals, and so their production follows organic principles. At the same time, Tsorot cacao is not grown as a monocultivar. The cacao is grown together with plantains, yucca and other foods that allow them to be less dependent on outside food sources. Each day is different for the Bribri people who tend to the cacao trees, as they work with the different needs of the different crops and other subsistence tasks. However, the future of Tsorot cacao is uncertain, with the small number of people working with this variety, and the lack of specific promotion for the product.

Back to the archive >


StateCosta Rica


Other info



Indigenous community:Bribri