Dried KolanutThe kolanut of West Africa is actually one of the seeds within a pod, a capsule.
These yellowish seeds have 52% carbohydrate, 1.6% fat, and 2-3% caffeine. This species is a small tropical tree that grows well in the same areas as cacao. Fruits are harvested before they split open with knives on long poles, and the seeds (usually eight in number) are collected from the fruit by hand.
The seed coat is removed, and the skinned "nuts" are washed and then kept in the shade for two to three hours to wither. In a tradition method, seeds are then placed in unlined baskets covered with banana leaves (Musa) and permitted to ferment while sweating. After several days, the seeds are sun dried to a brown color, and from that a powder is produced. About 250,000 tons of kolanuts are sold each year for cola drinks. The seed also contains kolanin, a compound with a sugar attached (glycoside), that can stimulate the heart.