The composition of cocoa pulp simulation media (PSM) was optimized with species-specific strains of lactic acid bacteria (PSM-LAB) and acetic acid bacteria (PSM-AAB). Also, laboratory fermentations were carried out in PSM to investigate growth and metabolite production of strains of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum and of Acetobacter pasteurianus isolated from Ghanaian cocoa bean heap fermentations, in view of the development of a defined starter culture. In a first step, a selection of strains was made out of a pool of strains of these LAB and AAB species, obtained from previous studies, based on their fermentation kinetics in PSM. Also, various concentrations of citric acid in the presence of glucose and/or fructose (PSM-LAB) and of lactic acid in the presence of ethanol (PSM-AAB) were tested. These data could explain the competitiveness of particular cocoa-specific strains, namely, L. plantarum 80 (homolactic and acid tolerant), L. fermentum 222 (heterolactic, citric acid fermenting, mannitol producing, and less acid tolerant), and A. pasteurianus 386B (ethanol and lactic acid oxidizing, acetic acid overoxidizing, acid tolerant, and moderately heat tolerant), during the natural cocoa bean fermentation process. For instance, it turned out that the capacity to use citric acid, which was exhibited by L. fermentum 222, is of the utmost importance. Also, the formation of mannitol was dependent not only on the LAB strain but also on environmental conditions. A mixture of L. plantarum 80, L. fermentum 222, and A. pasteurianus 386B can now be considered a mixed-strain starter culture for better controlled and more reliable cocoa bean fermentation processes.