Product Review: Kaka'Wa Cocoa Beans by Cocoa Puro

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, to wonderful effect.

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, to wonderful effect.

Please read my updated review here.

You guys might remember my friend Chef Keem.  He is one in a million, and also makes a Darn Fine Candy.  So, when he contacted me a couple of weeks ago, wanting me to try some chocolate covered cocoa beans that a friend of his makes, well, who am I to say No?  Friends, I am not one to say No when it comes to candies, and especially not chocolate candies.  So, after a few emails back and forth to Tom Pedersen, father of Cocoa Puro, my little gems came to me in the mail.

First, let me describe said gems.  They are whole roasted cocoa beans of the rare and delightful Criollo and Trinitario varieties (as opposed to the widely available and somewhat feral-tasting Forestoro variety) that have been Triple Dunked.  Once in white chocolate.  Once in milk chocolate.  Once in dark chocolate.  Oh, and then they're dusted with cocoa powder.  Just for good measure.  This gives you Five Levels of pure chocolate flavor.  Each dunk is maybe 1-2 mm thick, with the white chocolate closest to the bean, followed by milk, dark and cocoa powder.  Here's what your tongue gets to taste, in order of appearance:  bitter; bittersweet smooth, sweeter creamy, sweetest creamy and back to bitter crunchy.  All the flavors and textures combine to make a wee candy of incredible chocolate depth and well rounded flavor.  Happy, happy tongue.

Five levels of Chocolate Joy

Five levels of Chocolate Joy

Now, I must say that Mother Nature was not kind.  She had the nerve to make it Be a Billion degrees over the last couple of days, especially on the route between Austin, TX y mi casa.  Although the beans came wrapped Extremely well, with wee ice packs and insulated bubble wrap (!), they were a bit on the melty side.

I wish we could have tried them in perfect condition.  Even so, they were Damn Tasty.

I wish we could have tried them in perfect condition. Even so, they were Damn Tasty.

That meant that a)I had to throw them in the fridge to firm them up, b)the chocolate fell out of temper.  When The Beloved and I tried them cold, the crunchy in the middle seemed to overwhelm all the Sweet Creamy on the outside.  I emailed Tom and told him What Had Happened, and he wrote back saying that they don't generally ship wee packs, so it was difficult to figure out how much wrapping they would need.* Also, he recommended that they be eaten at room temperature.  So, I set them Out this morning to come to temp.  Since the chocolate was out of temper, it was much softer than it would normally be.  It got all over my fingers and was generally Melty.  Again, I blame Mother Nature.  Even with MN's meddling, these guys are Really, Really Good.  At room temp, the crunch in the middle is a little less crunchy while the sweet creamy is more so.  The end result is a perfectly balanced confection that is nothing but pure unadulterated chocolate.  Since all the flavors are similar, the magic is in the different textures and the nuances of flavor among the layers.

They, whoever they are, say "Do only one thing, but do it better than anyone else," and the folks at Cocoa Puro have really taken it to heart.  This might be the only thing they do, but they do it right.  They've found a way to make "chocolate," which can sometimes be a little one-note, into a bite-sized symphony.

You can find Kaka'Wa (and no, I don't know what it means) Cocoa Beans at the Cocoa Pura website.  They come in 12 oz. bags for $28/bag, not including shipping.  It is a pretty Steep Price, especially in this economy.  But remember what you're getting, if you need to Justify the Expense:  five chocolate flavors in one bite, the middle bite being pure, unadulterated, unsweetened-and-yet-not-the-least-bit-bitter cocoa bean.  These guys really are a rare treat.  So, thank you Tom for sending some my way, and thanks again to Chef Keem for making the connection initially.

Full disclosure:  I got my wee bag gratis, but since I am not Swayed by Free Treats, my review is as unbiased as I can make it.  Also, the link to the Cocoa Pura website is not an affiliate link--it's just there because I care about you.  I will say that, since I think these little guys are so great, I am putting a link over there in the Prepared Food Treats section of my blog roll.  That's not an affiliate link either.

*If the folks at Cocoa Pura intend to ship wee tasting bags to folks for feedback, I hope they work out the proper freezer-pack-to-wee-bag ratio or only ship in cool weather so we lucky tasters can taste them at their best.


  1. says

    Ooops! Double-ooops! Triple-sorry, Jenni. As one can see on the cocoa puro website, these guys are seductively pleasing to the eye under perfect conditions.

    Mother Nature told me to buzz off when I filed my complaint. She had talked to Frau Sunshine and gotten quite a fiery mouthful in response: “Cruising for a shiner, Mother? I shine. That’s what I do. Which means that the post(wo)man should NOT leave the chocolate wee-bit on top of the delivery pile, while they’re taking their lunch hour!”

    Thing is, both Tom and I have been shipping tons of chocolate all over the country with no problems whatsoever. Except for THE ONE time, out of manymanymany. I really suspect that the reasons for these lonely, unfortunate “melter” cases lie in extremely improper treatment along the transportation path. Can’t really blame our over-worked delivery personnel, either.

    Funny – although everyone should always get their order in perfect shape – the mishaps usually mishappen when a shipment goes out to a wildly popular reviewer for a presentation to hundreds of eye balls. What’s the name of this law again? Is it reliable? (That would be good news for us regular, candy-loving mortals!)

    • says

      It really wasn’t a huge deal, Achim–if they are that tasty after melting and rehardening, I can well imagine how great they are in Perfect Shape.

      And Murphy is the guy with that law. I am well acquainted with him! 😆

  2. says

    Love the idea of something dipped in so many layers of chocolate. I was overcome by an intense chocolate craving last week and had to drop everything to go bake a chocolate cake, but these sound like they would have taken care of the craving sans the hot oven.

    I’m not a huge fan of chocolate dipped espresso beans because of that gritty texture they leave. Do these cocoa beans leave that same texture? I’ve never had cocoa beans whole, but love “nibs” which I think are just crushed cocoa beans…

    • says

      Hey, Marc! I didn’t find the cocoa beans to be nearly as gritty/hard as espresso beans are. They definitely have crunch, but it’s a softer crunch, like you don’t have to bite as hard to crack it as you would an espresso bean, if you know what I mean. It’s strange, too, because dipped, the candies are somewhere between the size of a large peanut m&m and a small Jordan almond, and most of that is bean. Somehow it all works, though.

  3. says

    Greetings, all,
    And thank you Chef Jenni for hosting this forum on fine foods. I’m very pleased you liked our Kakawa Cocoa Beans. I spend a lot of time and effort to make them beautiful and tasty, so it’s unfortunate they didn’t arrive in good condition. Only I am to blame for not putting a large enough cold pack in the shipment. Live and learn. So, to make good, I’m sending another package today and Chef Jenni will be getting more chocolates before the week’s out! Stay tuned for a new photo of the real thing!
    Kind regards,
    Tom Pedersen
    Founder, Cocoa Puro

    P.S. Marc had a question; do Kakawa Cocoa Beans have the same texture as espresso beans. No, they’re more like an almond or other nut. And much more flavorful! When I decided to get into chocolate I wanted to make something no one else was making; something that would intensify real chocolate flavors. When I found the whole cocoa bean I found the secret to any good chocolate. The gentle crunch of whole fresh roasted cocoa beans compliments the many layers of different chocolates surrounding them. Five chocolates in one bite… not a bad way to go.

  4. says


    –They, whoever they are, say “Do only one thing, but do it better than anyone else,” and the folks at Cocoa Puro have really taken it to heart.

    Robert Heinlein said “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    I was pitching manure the other day. I never have set a bone.

    Kakawa is supposed to be Olmec (?) for cacao, or cacahuatl, or chocolatl, or chocolate. Mmmmmmmmmm.

    Mmmmmm. The beans sound good even if they are melted.



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