Cocoa beans are used to make chocolate, so if cocoa beans were kitniot, many yummy Pesach desserts would disappear. So that’s the reason why it is not kitniot, even the rabbis like chocolate-covered matzot – kidding.
As with coffee, there are many reasons why cocoa is not kitniot: It is not a legume, it grows on a tree, it was not part in the original ban, it is not stored/processed/used like grain in any way. This seems to be clear to everyone, there are not even many web pages that discuss the question (an exception is the OU that has cocoa beans in their Pesach food quiz 5769 and has an article Cocoa – No Beans About It).
There are still problems about chocolate on Pesach. Of course chocolate that contains cookies or the like is obviously chametz and forbidden by any account. But most chocolate contains many ingredients, some of them may be actual chametz (e.g., malt made out of grain), some of them may be kitniot. An obvious kitniot example is the common combination of chocolate with peanuts, very common is the use of soy lecithin to make the chocolate smooth (D. Prinz: What Makes This Chocolate Different From All Other Chocolate?), some chocolate may contain weird ingredients like canola (Vered HaGalil and the Kitniyot Problem) and you have the ubiquitous "flavors" made from just anything.
But some of the chocolate that looks like it must be forbidden at first glace may actually be allowed even for those who avoid kitniot. The first question is of course, if you consider the item in question kitniot (I have posted about the issues concerning soy beans, peanuts, sesame, poppy seeds). Even if you consider the item in question kitniot, it may still be batel be-rov, nullified by the majority, or be a derivative of kitniot which may be permitted according to the double-doubt reasoning (source Rav Eliezer Melamed, for more about derivatives of kitniot see my comments about oil in the posts on soy, peanuts, and sunflowers).
So, enjoy your chocolate!
- Danger of chametz traces: Not for the beans, but for chocolate.
- Danger of confusion with chametz (raw): No.
- Danger of confusion with chametz (processed): No.
- Botanical categorization: Malvaceae, flower
- Known in 13th century: No.
- Verdict: Not kitniot.
photo (c) David Monniaux