This tree has a lot of pods! They are purple and therefore not ready to pick yet. Ripe pods of this variety will be red. Another common variety is green when not ripe, and a bright yellow when ripe.
Different trees produce at different times. The pods on this one will be ready in just a few weeks. After that, it may take the rest of the season off to recover. Not all trees are this enthusiastic!
You can also see a lot of cacao flowers on this tree, some opened, some not. Tiny midges fertilize the flowers, and some of them will become cacao pods in a few months.
Why so many pictures of pods on trees? We make our own Lavaloha chocolate on site, but also sell dried cacao beans to other chocolate makers
Ripe pods are picked, opened and the cacao beans removed. This picture of the drying area was taken in summer when fewer pods are ready to be harvested. Cacao trees produce most heavily in the fall and winter (such as we have in Hawaii!). In the late fall this room will be filled with fermenting, drying and stored cacao beans.
Our chocolate is made in this kitchen on our property. The picture shows roughly half of the kitchen. The winnowers and conchers are in a separate section.