Bulk cocoa is a mix of fermented, partially fermented, and unfermented cacao, dried and sourced from small farms across any given region. These beans are usually fermented by each farmer individually, so flavors and varietals are mixed with no regard to quality or bean size. Sometimes the beans come from unripe fruits, as farmers can only afford to harvest their cacao once a month and want to cut the fruits before small animals get to them. Most bulk cacao is of forastero varietals, grown for their higher productivity and larger bean size rather than their flavor.
Fine flavor cacao is often of criollo or trinitario heritage, but since cacaos constantly cross-pollinate, after a few generations most trees on a healthy farm are of mixed heritage. Either way, fine flavor cacaos must be treated with care from the beginning of their lives, shaded and pruned when necessary, and well irrigated and fertilized. For cacao to taste best, producers must only pick the ripe pods to process into dried beans.