Besides the nutritional characteristics of cacao, the processing of the beans is of the utmost importance in order to guarantee quality chocolate. This process can be subdivided into the following phases:
The cacao pods, which grow on the trunk and the larger branches of the plant, are broken off in order to remove the beans enclosed in their mucilaginous pulp. The beans are piled up on banana leaves to facilitate the fermentation process (note: this is the traditional way)
During the fermentation process – which lasts from3 to 6 days according to climate, altitude, variety – the bitterness and astringency of the beans is curbed and the basis for the aromas is developed. The cacao bean is subjected to an increase in temperature of up to 50° C, which melts the mucilaginous pulp and facilitates the development of chemical reactions inside the bean itself.
At the end of the fermentation process, the cacao beans, now free of the mucilaginous pulp, are dried on the ground if the season is favourable. In case of rain, they are placed in well-aerated places. The drying process reduced the humidity to 7%.
To make the beans suitable for raw consumption the beans get cleaned of the microbes, bacteria and any other pollutants which otherwise would be killed during the Roasting. Our beans are also lab tested and hands-down — the cleanest beans on the market!
You can buy shelled and unshelled beans and the small pieces, nibs. Further the cacao nibs are cold pressed to receive the white flavorful cacao butter and cacao powder.
Although we are not using Roasted beans I feel it is quite interesting to understand the process, therefore please continue reading:
The roasting of the cacao is a very delicate operation and the identification of the ideal roasting point requires great experience. Bad roasting may have negative effects on the quality of the cacao, which may have a burnt taste.
When the cacao beans exit the cleaning machines they enter the roaster whole and are then heated to a temperature between 120 -140° C. They are then cooled and thrown into the winnowing machine that separates the shell from the meat, or nib, inside.
During this phase the cacao bean is ground and turned into a liquid paste called cacao liquor or paste, Made of cacao butter and the dry part of the bean. This paste is mixed with sugar (or with milk in the case of milk chocolate) and refined. The chocolate is born.
The chocolate is put into vats and mixed at a constant temperature for up to 72 hours (but sometimes as long as 120 hours). This eliminates any humidity, unpleasant aromas, excess bitterness or acidity, and perfectly emulsifies all the ingredients.
With the procedure the process of crystallization and solidification of the chocolate begins. This operation determines the chocolate’s ductility, gloss, and consistency.