Cocoa beans or Cocoa comes from the cacao tree or Theobroma (a Greek word that means “food of the gods”) cacao. Cocoa beans was the basic ingredient in the ancient times for the production of the chocolate. During that period ,chocolates were made in liquid form and people used to drink it. Introduction to the chocolates bars happened in 19th Century and their sales grew more rapidly in the early 20th century. Till date, cocoa beans are prominently used to manufacture the chocolates on a very large scale.
STAGES FOR PRODUCTION OF COCOA BEANS TO CHOCOLATE BAR
Now Lets see the Stage wise process of how Chocolate Bar is formed from Cocoa Beans.
- The period of Cocoa trees is up to 25 to 30 years and it takes up to 5 years to produce the first Cocoa pods. The height of the tree is about 30 ft.
- Every year these trees blossom thousands of flowers on their trunks and branches but hardly 1% of these flowers produce a cocoa.
- The cocoa pods will begin to ripen 5-6 months after it blossoms.
- They are found in dark brown to orange, red, yellow and green colors.
- Each pod contains 30-50 beans (shaped like a flat almonds). These beans are finally transferred into cocoa powder.
- After the pods are ripen, they are cut down from the trees with the help of heavy knife and for the higher pods, long poles with a cutting edge are used.
- Proper care is required while cutting the pods to prevent it from damage. Thus it won’t hamper the quality of the fruit produced throughout the year.
- These pods are harvested in two harvest seasons: the main harvest and the Mid-harvest (falls after six months of main harvest).
- After cutting the pods, they are placed in piles.
- With the help of the heavy knife, it is been cut in two halves.
- The beans (roughly 30-50 in each pod) are removed.
- These beans are piled on the top of large banana leaves.
Cocoa beans are fermented for the following three purposes:
- To remove the mucilage(an adhesive solution; gum or glue)
- Stop the cocoa beans from germinating
- To begin the flavor development
- Fermentation is a requisite step for a high quality cacao bean development that will be transformed into gourmet chocolate.
- Many farmers adopted the traditional approach of fermenting the beans in a large pile on the ground in between banana leaves or sacks.
- Some groups ferment beans in wooden boxes for a period of six days.
- The drying stage is essential after fermentation, bringing the humidity of the beans below 10% for storage and export.
- Cacao beans are often dried in the sun, which can happen on tarps or mats. They are continually raked so that they will dry more evenly.
- It shouldn’t be dried too much as it becomes brittle.
- Once dried, cocao beans can be stored for 4-5 years.
ROASTING & WINNOWING:
- After the dried beans arrived at the processing plant, first they are cleaned to remove any debris.
- These beans are roasted at different temperatures and in varied time duration depending upon the humidity, size of beans and the desired flavour to darken the color.
- After roasting, beans are winnowed in which the shells of the beans are removed ,leaving behind the roasted cocoa core. It is the basic and vital ingredient to make the chocolate.
- In this process, the cocoa nib or cocoa core is ground into a paste called chocolate liquor (having no alcoholic content).
- Chocolate liquor can either be used directly in the production of chocolate bars or further processed to separate the fat, known as cocoa butter, from the cocoa solid, leaving cocoa press cake.
- Cocoa butter is used in chocolate bars and beauty products. Cocoa press cake is milled into cocoa powder to be used for baking cocoa and hot cocoa.
- Conch comes from the Spanish word Concha, which means shell.
- The name “conching” arouse because the original vessel used to hold the chocolate was shaped like a conch shell.
- Conching is a modern process used in making chocolate. The characteristic taste, smell and texture of chocolate are developed at this stage.
- To make chocolate bars, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter are blended with other ingredients such as sugar, vanilla, and milk (for milk chocolate).These ingredients are then refined.
- This process thoroughly blends the ingredients, taking out some of the acidity of the cacao and further developing the flavors that will appear in the final bar.
TEMPERING & MOLDING:
- After the conching is complete, the chocolate is then “tempered” through a slow, stepped decrease in temperature. During this process, the chocolate is cooled and then warmed, then cooled further and warmed once again, and so on until it reaches the correct temperature, creating an even crystallization of the ingredients throughout the chocolate.
- After the chocolate is properly tempered, it is ready for additional ingredient inclusions such as almonds, coffee beans, or sea salt.
- The chocolate is then poured into molds, which form the shape of the bar. The chocolate cools until it becomes solid and is then removed from the molds as chocolate bars.
The quality department needs to perform the following functions:
- To check the quality of every chocolate and Cocoa product leaving from their warehouse,
- Members from this department undergo requisite trainings and they need to explore their talents to improve the standard of the chocolate bars.
- The department compares a new shipment of chocolate to a previous shipment, to ensure consistency
- They need to fill a feedback form about the product’s aromas, flavours and taste.
I hope you are enlightened with the entire process. If you have any querries,please do not hesitate to ask us .