Some of the rarest cocoa in the world is found in the pacific islands.
“Koko Samoa” is traditional Samoan drinking chocolate.
“Koko Samoa” has become just as much a part of Samoan culture as any other traditional food, considered a national drink. Nearly every family has either a plantation of a number of plants for own use. So when you visit a traditional family in Samoa, you are often treated with a cup of koko.
The preparation of koko Samoa is part of the experience. When the pods are ripe, kids usually pick the pods from the tree and look forward to a cocoa pod opening session where the fresh pulp around each seed is enjoyed like a candy while looking forward to who gets the middle part called the ‘fuge’, a tasty refreshing treat.
The beans can be used on fresh harvest and/or fermented in lined woven baskets, processed and sundried for storage.
The cocoa beans are roasted on a plate over an open fire. They are continually stirred and turned over the hot plate to avoid burning until they are ready. This is often an occasion where it brings together two or more people circling around the fire, indulging in humorous conversations and daily updates while stirring the beans.
When the beans are ready, the skins are immediately removed by hand while warm and put into a wooden mortar where it is ground into a liquid paste with a polished river stone. The liquid paste is then mixed with hot water, boiled in the kettle and sweetened and shared with guests and family.
Our oral traditions suggest that the original “Koko Samoa” was brought to Samoa from Peru by our early navigator ancestors circa 700AD. Along with other plants like tapioca and kumara (sweet potato) traded and grown on Islands dotted among the vast Pacific ocean-scape as subsistence food supporting ancestral inhabitants.
It is thought this original cacao was criollo varieties still found amongst traditional plantations.
In the early 19th century German colonials introduced Forestero and Trinitario cacao varieties by way of Brazil and Madagascar. It was grown in colonial plantation lands, using local and imported labour to supply Europe.
The varieties have blended into a unique Samoan Trinitario, a quality fine flavoured cacao with distinct characteristics that reflect Samoas’ history.