Profile of cacao cultivated in Colombia: a study based on standardized methods, indicators of quality and variety

Profile of cacao cultivated in Colombia: a study based on standardized methods, indicators of quality and variety

Maritza Gilab, Carolina Bedoyab, Luz Alzateb, Julian Londono-Londonoc

aUniversidad Nacional de Colombia. Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias. Medellín-Antioquia Colombia.
bCorporación Universitaria Lasallista. Grupo de investigación de Ingeniería de Alimentos, GRIAL.

International Journal of Food and Nutrition Research

Several modifications have been reported for methods used to recognize varieties and the quality of cocoa during post-harvest. This situation has limited comparable and competitive profiles. For this reason, the aim of this study was to standardize the methodologies to evaluate the bromatological, and physicochemical profile of raw, fermented and dried cocoa of four clones from Colombia, in order to identify its quality during post-harvest and between varieties. Fat content: Six solvents were evaluated using Soxhlet and an alternative method assisted by Ultrasound. Total acidity: It was optimized with respect to time by using centrifugation. Antioxidant capacity: Two solvent systems were evaluated to obtain the higher recovery of cocoa extract in the determination of polyphenols and antioxidant capacity. Fermentation index: The difference among the varieties as well as raw and well-fermented cocoa was calculated by using the anthocyanins absorbance ratio. Finally, the experiments were conducted in a completely randomized design. One-way analysis of variance. Hexane was the most efficient solvent for the extraction of fat content. The use of centrifugation instead of filtration during the determination of total acidity reduced the time of analysis in 25 min. acetone:water: acetic acid (70:29.5:0.5) mixture was the best system for the extraction in the determination of the antioxidant activity. The ratio of anthocyanins <1 was an indicator of well-fermented beans and raw cocoa varieties. Proteins, fiber, anthocyanins, and phenols showed significant differences between varieties, which may be convenient to classify cocoa beans.

Keywords: Theobroma cacao L., ethereal extracted, total acidity, anthocyanins, ORAC, total phenols content.

Free Full-text PDF

How to cite this article:
Maritza Gil, Carolina Bedoy, Luz Alzate, Julian Londono-Londono. Profile of cacao cultivated in Colombia: a study based on standardized methods, indicators of quality and variety. International Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 2018; 2:13.  DOI: 10.28933/ijfnr-2018-07-1601


1. Street B, Legon E. Cocoa Market Update. 2014;(4):1–11.
2. Araujo QR, Fernandes CAF, Ribeiro DO, Efraim P, Steinmacher D, Lieberei R, et al. Cocoa Quality Index – A proposal. Food Control [Internet]. 2014 Dec [cited 2015 Feb 11];46:49–54. Available from:
3. Tomas-Barberán FA, Cienfuegos-Jovellanos E, Marín A, Muguerza B, Gil-Izquierdo A, Cerdá B, et al. A new process to develop a cocoa powder with higher flavonoid monomer content and enhanced bioavailability in healthy humans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2007. p. 3926–35.
4. Hu S, Kim B-Y, Baik M-Y. Physicochemical properties and antioxidant capacity of raw, roasted and puffed cacao beans. Food Chem [Internet]. 2016 Mar [cited 2015 Sep 8];194:1089–94. Available from:
5. Afoakwa EO, Quao J, Takrama FS, Budu a. S, Saalia FK. Changes in total polyphenols, o-diphenols, and anthocyanin concentrations during fermentation of pulp pre-conditioned cocoa (Theobroma cacao) beans. Int Food Res J. 2012;19(3):1071–7.
6. Di Mattia C, Martuscelli M, Sacchetti G, Scheirlinck I, Beheydt B, Mastrocola D, et al. Effect of Fermentation and Drying on Procyanidins, Antiradical Activity and Reducing Properties of Cocoa Beans. Food Bioprocess Technol. 2013;6(12):3420–32.
7. García-Alamilla P, Salgado-Cervantes MA, Barel M, Berthomieu G, Rodríguez-Jimenes GC, García-Alvarado MA. Moisture, acidity and temperature evolution during cacao drying. J Food Eng. 2007;79:1159–65.
8. Guehi ST, Dabonne S, Ban-Koffi L, Kedjebo DK, Zahouli GIB. Effect of turning beans and fermentation method on the acidity and physical quality of raw cocoa beans. Adv J Food Sci Technol. 2010;2(3):163–71.
9. Kadow D, Niemenak N, Rohn S, Lieberei R. Fermentation-like incubation of cocoa seeds (Theobroma cacao L.) – Reconstruction and guidance of the fermentation process. LWT – Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2015 Jun [cited 2015 Apr 24];62(1):357–61. Available from:
10. Portillo E, Labarca M, Grazziani L, Cros E, Assemat S, Davrieux F, et al. Influencia de la condiciones del tratamiento poscosecha sobre la temperatura y acidez en granos de cacao Criollo (Theobroma cacao L .). Rev Fac Agron. 2011;28(Supl. 1):646–60.
11. Rodriguez-Campos J, Escalona-Buendía HB, Contreras-Ramos SM, Orozco-Avila I, Jaramillo-Flores E, Lugo-Cervantes E. Effect of fermentation time and drying temperature on volatile compounds in cocoa. Food Chem [Internet]. 2012 May [cited 2015 Jan 13];132(1):277–88. Available from:
12. Wollgast J, Anklam E. Review on polyphenols in Theobroma cacao: Changes in composition during the manufacture of chocolate and methodology for identification and quantification. Food Res Int. 2000;33(6):423–47.
13. Badrie N, Bekele F, Sikora E, Sikora M. Cocoa Agronomy, Quality, Nutritional, and Health Aspects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr [Internet]. 2015;55(5):620–59. Available from:
14. Aculey PC, Snitkjaer P, Owusu M, Bassompiere M, Takrama J, Nørgaard L, et al. Ghanaian cocoa bean fermentation characterized by spectroscopic and chromatographic methods and chemometrics. J Food Sci. 2010;75(6):300–7.
15. Teye E, Huang X, Sam-Amoah LK, Takrama J, Boison D, Botchway F, et al. Estimating cocoa bean parameters by FT-NIRS and chemometrics analysis. Food Chem [Internet]. 2015 Jun 1 [cited 2015 Dec 9];176:403–10. Available from:
16. Cambrai A, Marcic C, Morville S, Houer PS, Bindler F, Marchioni E. Differentiation of chocolates according to the cocoa’s geographical origin using chemometrics. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58:1478–83.
17. Gil M, Orrego F, Cadena E, Alegria R, Londono-Londono J. Effect of Pectin Lyase Enzyme on Fermentation and Drying of Cocoa ( Theobroma cacao L .): An Alternative to Improve Raw Material in the Industry of Chocolate. Food Nutr Sci. 2016;3(April):215–26.
18. ICONTEC Internacional. Norma Técnica Colombiana NTC 1252. Cacao en grano. 2003 p. 12.
19. Official Methods of Analysis. Chapter 31. The cacao bean its products. AOAC International. 2012.
20. Carrillo LC, Londoño-Londoño J, Gil A. Comparison of polyphenol, methylxanthines and antioxidant activity in Theobroma cacao beans from different cocoa-growing areas in Colombia. Food Res Int [Internet]. 2014 Jun [cited 2015 Jun 30];60:273–80. Available from:
21. Nazaruddin R, Seng LK, Hassan O, Said M. Effect of pulp preconditioning on the content of polyphenols in cocoa beans (Theobroma Cacao) during fermentation. Ind Crops Prod [Internet]. 2006 Jul [cited 2015 Oct 12];24(1):87–94. Available from:
22. Official Methods of Analysis. AOAC 942.15 Acidity (Titratable) of Fruit Products. 2016.
23. Gourieva, K.B., Tserrevitinov OB. Method of evaluating the degree of fermentation of cocoa beans. USSR; 646254, 1979.
24. Ortega N, Romero MP, Maci?? A Reguant J, Angles N, Morelló JR, et al. Comparative study of UPLC-MS/MS and HPLC-MS/MS to determine procyanidins and alkaloids in cocoa samples. J Food Compos Anal. 2010;23(3):298–305.
25. Ou, B., Hampsch-Woodill, M. and Prior R. Development and Validation of an Improved Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Assay Using Fluorescein as the Fluorescent Probe. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:4619–26.
26. Montgomery D. Diseño y análisis de experiments. 2nd ed. Wiley L, editor. Distrito Federal; 2004. 692 p.
27. Micheli F, Guiltinan M, Gramacho KP, Wilkinson MJ, Figueira AV de O, Cascardo JC de M, et al. Chapter 3 – Functional Genomics of Cacao. Advances in Botanical Research [Internet]. 2010. p. 119–77. Available from:
28. Granvogl M, Schieberle P. Quantification of 3-aminopropionamide in cocoa, coffee, and cereal products : correlation with acrylamide concentrations determined by an improved clean-up method for complex matrices. Eur Food Res Technol. 2007;225:857–63.
29. Dankyi E, Gordon C, Carboo D, Fomsgaard IS. Quantification of neonicotinoid insecticide residues in soils from cocoa plantations using a QuEChERS extraction procedure and LC-MS/MS. Sci Total Environ [Internet]. 2014 Nov 15 [cited 2015 Nov 12];499:276–83. Available from:
30. Southgate DAT. Examen de métodos de análisis. In: Burlingame BA, Charrondiere UR., editors. Datos de composición de Alimentos: obtención, gestión y utilización [Internet]. 1st ed. Food & Agriculture Org.; 2006. p. 107–62. Available from:
31. Fedecacao. Cultivo de cacao (Theobroma cacao L.). 2008.
32. Ramírez J, Cigarroa A, Del Valle R. Characterization of Cocoa ( Theobroma cacao L .) Farming Systems in the Norte de Santander Department and Assessment of Their Sustainability. Rev Fac Nac Agron Medellín. 2014;67(1):7177–87.
33. Ramirez-Sanchez I, Maya L, Ceballos G, Villarreal F. Fluorescent detection of (-)-epicatechin in micro samples from cacao seeds and cocoa products: Comparison with Folin-Ciocalteu method. J Food Compost Anal [Internet]. 2010 Dec 1 [cited 2015 Dec 14];23(8):790–3. Available from:
34. Dankyi E, Carboo D, Gordon C, Fomsgaard IS. Application of the QuEChERS procedure and LC-MS/MS for the assessment of neonicotinoid insecticide residues in cocoa beans and shells. J Food Compos Anal [Internet]. 2015 Dec [cited 2015 Sep 24];44:149–57. Available from:
35. Luque-García JL, Luque De Castro MD. Ultrasound: A powerful tool for leaching. Trends Anal Chem. 2003;22(1):41–7.
36. International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). Guidelines on Best Known Practices in the Cocoa Value Chain. Nineteenth meeting 2009 p. 1–10.
37. Guehi ST, Irie G, Zahouli B, Fae AM, Ban-Koffi L, Nemlin JG. Effect of Drying Methods on the Chemical Quality Traits of Cocoa Raw Material. Adv J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2010;2(4):184–90. Available from:
38. Portillo E, Graziani L BE. Análisis químico del cacao criollo porcelana (Theobroma cacao L.) en el sur del lago de Maracaibo. Rev la Fac Agron. 2007;24:522–46.
39. Kongor JE, Hinneh M, de Walle D Van, Afoakwa EO, Boeckx P, Dewettinck K. Factors influencing quality variation in cocoa (Theobroma cacao) bean flavour profile – a review. Food Res Int [Internet]. 2016 Jan [cited 2016 Jan 30];82:44–52. Available from:
40. Elwers S, Zambrano A, Rohsius C, Lieberei R. Differences between the content of phenolic compounds in Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario cocoa seed (Theobroma cacao L.). Eur Food Res Technol. 2009;229(6):937–48.
41. Sandhya MVS, Yallappa BS, Varadaraj MC, Puranaik J, Rao LJ, Janardhan P, et al. Inoculum of the starter consortia and interactive metabolic process in enhancing quality of cocoa bean (Theobroma cacao) fermentation. LWT – Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2016 Jan [cited 2015 Dec 5];65:731–8. Available from:
42. Mari A, Montoro P, D’Urso G, Macchia M, Pizza C, Piacente S. Metabolic profiling of Vitex agnus castus leaves, fruits and sprouts: Analysis by LC/ESI/(QqQ)MS and (HR) LC/ESI/(Orbitrap)/MSn. J Pharm Biomed Anal [Internet]. Elsevier B.V.; 2015;102:215–21. Available from:
43. Aranzazu Hernandez F. Modelos De Siembra En Cacao Para Apoyar Los Retos De Produccion Y Calidad Del Cacao. VIII Foro Nacional de Cacao, Honduras. San Pedro Sula; 2015. p. 68.
44. Bustamante SZ, Tamayo Tenorio A, Rojano BA. Efecto del Tostado Sobre Los Metabolites Secundarios y la Actividad Antioxidant de Clones de Cacao Colombiano. Rev Fac Nac Agron Medellín. 2015;68(1):7497–507.
45. Gil M. Aproximación quimiométrica del balance entre Los compuestos neoformados y Los responsables de la Calidad desarrollados Durante las etapas de poscosecha de cacaos Especiales (Theobroma cacao L.) cultivates en Antioquia. Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Medellín; 2018.
46. Schwan RF. Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations. Schaw R, Fleet G, editors. Boca Ratón, FL: CRC Press; 2015.