Theobroma grandiflorum


Common names

Spanish: (copoazu); Portuguese: (cupuaçu)

Fruit pulp and seeds
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Tree info

Dimensions in meters 5–10 m (if not pruned)
Maturity of tree before yields 3 years
Productivity lifetime 20+ years (comparable to cacao)
Seasonality In its native Amazonian habitat, fruits ripen between February – April (end of the rainy, beginning of the dry season).
Production zones and cultivation methods T. grandiflorum is a close relative of the cacao tree; it is categorized in the same genus and shares many characteristics with cacao. The species is particularly suited to shaded, well-drained and non-flooded areas. However, it can also adapt to temporally flooded conditions, if the soil is fertile enough. In Brazil, where it is native, copoazu often suffers from Escoba de Bruja, a fungus that can kill the tree and spoil the fruits. While the fungus has not yet reached Peru, it remains a potential threat for producers there.


Per 100 g pulp (EP)

The fruit pulp of T. grandiflorum is rich in vitamins C and B1. It also contains good amounts of manganese, potassium, zinc and iron. Few research articles are freely accessible on the nutritional value of copoazu seeds (which are fermented to make chocolate-like products).
Energy (kcal) 69 kcal
% Daily Value (DV) *
Macronutrients Protein: 1.1 g 2 %
Fats: 1.2 g   1.5 %
Carbohydrates: 14.87 g  5 %
Key Minerals Manganese: 0.2 mg  8 %
Potassium: 246 mg  5 %
Zinc: 0.37 mg  3 %
Iron: 0.53 mg  3 %
Key Vitamins Ascorbic acid (vitamin C): 25 mg 13 %
Thiamine (vitamin B1): 0.2 mg  28 %
Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 0.03 mg 15 %
Other Dietary fibre: 2.6 g    2 %
*All Daily Recommended Values are calculated using the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recommendation guide.


Found throughout Amazonian countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.


Copoazu is closely related to cocoa; its seeds can be similarly fermented to make chocolate-like products and nut butter. This is because the seed has a high content in digestible fats, in particular oleic acid, which enables its use as a replacement for cocoa butter. When the seed is fermented to produce “chocolate,” it contains about half the antioxidant capacity of cacao chocolate.

The sweet, fleshy pulp of the fruit is also very much appreciated and used to make juices, nectars, jams and ice-creams. Although the pulp’s energy value is low and represents a limited source of calories, it is high in pectin (a soluble fibre and gelling agent) and has a low pH value. These characteristics make it a good candidate to replace food additives in pastry.

The fruit also contains many antioxidants as well as vitamin C, but its nutritional value will decrease if the pulp is not frozen within two to five days of harvest, according to a scientist from UNAMAD. This is a major challenge for the commercialization of copoazu, as most producers do not have access to fast-freezing facilities that maintain nutrients and prevent fermentation.

Despite challenges to establish value chains, there is great potential for market expansion of copoazu. As mentioned above, the seeds can be fermented and transformed into “chocolate” and nut butter. The fruit can also be processed into at least 25 different products, from pastries to cosmetic products, nectars and soaps. In Peru, a promotional campaign by the regional government (GOREMAD) and local NGOs saw cultivation of Theobroma grandiflorum rise from almost nothing to over 1,200 metric tons of fruit per year over a 10-year period (2005–2015).

In agroforestry systems, copoazu behaves like cacao and prefers growing in shaded conditions (the understory). It is an excellent species to mix into a diverse system with taller fruit trees or palms. The fruit’s shell is often left on the field post-harvest and makes an excellent organic fertiliser. Additinally, because copoazu has rarely been domesticated to enhance size and flavour, it is better adapted to its wild environment — more resilient and robust — compared to many cacao-varieties.

If not processed for “chocolate,” the seed of the copoazu is an good fish-feed for aquacultures (fish-and-farming systems).

Scientist’s Review

As a huge lover of chocolate, I was delighted to discover that chocolate could also be made out of a whole different species! Try it if you can. – Elisabeth Lagneaux

Scientific references


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