Theobroma cacao is the taxonomic classification for the plant also called the cacao tree and the cocoa tree, which is a small (4–8 m (13–26 ft) tall) evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae,native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, confectionery, ganache and chocolate.
To make 1 kg (2.2 lb) of chocolate, about 300 to 600 beans are processed, depending on the desired cocoa content. In a factory, the beans are roasted. Next, they are cracked and then deshelled by a "winnower". The resulting pieces of beans are called nibs. They are sometimes sold in small packages at specialty stores and markets to be used in cooking, snacking, and chocolate dishes.
In general, cocoa is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as procyanidins and flavanoids, which may impart antiaging properties. Cocoa also contain a high level of flavonoids, specifically epicatechin, which may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Cocoa is a stimulant and contains the compounds theobromine and caffeine. The beans contain between 0.1% and 0.7% caffeine, whereas dry coffee beans are about 1.2% caffeine.