Cocoa Nibs


Cocoa nibs are the cleaned, roasted, and crushed cocoa beans that have been separated from their shells through the process of winnowing. The nibs are milled to make cocoa liquor, the basis of chocolate. They are often sold in small packages at specialty markets and are often used in dishes such as mole and chocolate desserts. Many people also snack on the bittersweet nibs for their nutritional value as a diuretic, heart stimulant, and vasodilator.


Other names: Cacao Nibs, Chocolate Nibs, Nibs
Translations: Kakao rakstāmspalvas, Kakavos pupelės, Cacao peniţe, Kakao gospodin, Cocoa ngòi, Kakao Nibs, Cacaonibs, कोको महत्वपूर्ण व्यक्ति, Cacau Nibs, Зерна какао, очищенные от шелухи, Κακάο Νιμπς, الكاكاو المناقير, 코코아 높으신 양반, Kakaová drť, Cocoa ginoo, 可可尼布斯, Cacau Eixerit, Kakavova jedrca, Kakaová drvina, Cacao Pennino, קקאו שפיץ, Какао пера, ココアニブス, Cacao Nibs, Kakaokerne, Cocoa penne, Cocoa spisser, Cacao Avispado, Зерна какао, очищені від лушпиння, Kaakao pomo, Какао писци

Physical Description

Cacao nibs are irregular shaped bits of cacoa beans ranging from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a pea. A bag of cacoa nibs looks very much like a bag of finely milled mulch.

Colors: light to dark brown, with dark brown predominating.

Tasting Notes

Flavors: Woody, bittersweet, bitter.
Mouthfeel: Soft and silky on the tongue, With a soft crunch between the teeth.
Food complements: Chocolate, Ice cream, Provides a crunchy texture to meats and fish.
Wine complements: Robust reds, Champagne
Beverage complements: Beer, Scotch, Milk, Water
Substitutes: None, Though crushed nuts may provide similar texture

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: Look for the highest quality nibs you can find, preferably purchasing directly from an artisanal chocolate factory to ensure they are high quality, single origin (unmixed beans).
Buying: You can find these in Seattle at Theo Chocolates. Theo is one of the only companies in America that make their own chocolate and their offerings are all organic. Also available at Uwajimaya in Seattle and Portland (in produce section) and on-line, including

Preparation and Use

Sprinkle on ice cream, in tempered chocolates, on roasted meat or fish dishes where a bit of texture is desired, as garnishment to chili or even on a hearty pasta dish. Nibs do not need to be cooked, and should be used sparingly due to their bittersweet taste.

Cleaning: No cleaning necessary.

Conserving and Storing

Store in a clean, dry container in a cupboard to avoid long-term exposure to sunlight.



History: Cacoa nibs were used by the Maya and Aztecs as early as 600 a.d. as the basis of an unflavored drink believed to have healing and stimulating properties. They continued to be used to produce the precurser to contemporary "hot cocoa," but the beverage was very coarse in texture and bitter, unlike the hot chocolate consumed today. In 1994, the Weiss chocolate company began marketing a chocolate bar containing nibs, and they are now used in many artisanal chocolates, as well as sold directly to consumers.

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