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Removing the Chaff, Winnowing Cocoa Beans

Winnowing the Wheat from the Tares Okay, when we are dealing with cocoa beans, we aren’t dealing with wheat. However, when most people think of winnowing, the biblical reference to winnowing the wheat from the tares is the first thing that comes to mind. In ancient times, wheat would be thrown into the air on […]

Winnowing, a Key to Quality Chocolate

When people think about chocolate making, they often overlook one important step—the winnowing process. Each cocoa bean is surrounded by a fibrous husk. When the cocoa pod is on the tree, this husk serves to protect the interior of the bean from animals that may break into the pods to eat the sweet pulp that […]

Types of Cocoa Bean Roasters

It is not hard to imagine that once in an Olmec village in Central America some cocoa beans were accidentally spilled near the fire, or some genius had the spark of inspiration to roast cocoa beans, an oversight that sent their culture and eventually the rest of the world on the chocolate journey that consumes […]

Roasting Cocoa for Flavor Development in Chocolate

When cocoa beans are roasted, a number of other important chemical changes happen that further influence the process of flavor development. After the cocoa beans are harvested and removed from their cocoa pods, they are fermented in large fermentation vats. (For more information, be sure to read our article on cocoa bean fermentation.) During the […]

Roasting Cocoa Beans, a Little Bit of Magic

Roasting Cocoa Beans and Chocolate The techniques used by the chocolate maker to roast the cocoa beans are one of the ways that chocolate makers can bring their own unique artistic vision to their chocolate making. It is one of the most important steps in the process of developing chocolate flavor. Variables such as temperature, […]

Cocoa Fermentation — All About It: Part 2

Cocoa Fermentation Sweatboxes Overtime a number of different types of  cocoa fermentation boxes or “sweatboxes” have been used for cocoa fermentation. Thankfully, the techniques for building them continue to improve as do the techniques used to get a consistent fermentation. Just a Hole in the Ground One of the most traditional methods used up through […]

Cocoa Fermentation — All About It: Part 1

Cocoa Fermentation — Bringing Magic to the Cocoa After the farmers have harvested the cocoa pods from the tree, some of the most crucial work begins to make fine, high-grade chocolate. The beans must be carefully fermented to bring out the very best flavors. It is unfortunate that the process of proper fermentation is under-appreciated […]

Harvesting Cocoa: All About It — Part 2

Harvesting Cocoa — It is all About the Details Harvesting cocoa is all about paying attention to details. After cocoa is harvested, the pods are often split open by cracking them open carefully with a machete. The pods are not simply split but instead are cracked and then opened by hand. A skilled worker can […]

Harvesting Cocoa: Part 1

Harvesting Cocoa: The First Big Step Towards Quality After a long season of working in the hot sun, farmers throughout the world anticipate the harvest. The harvesting of cocoa signifies the end to a hard season’s work, and farmers are able to literally see the fruits of their labors. The cocoa farmer is no different—he […]

Theobroma Cacao — the Tree of Life: Propagation

Cocoa Flowers Incredibly delicate, in addition to having a complex structure, the cacao flower is one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. It does take a keen eye, however, to appreciate them, because they are very small—only about one-half inch across. Unlike most flowers, they grow directly from the trunk of the tree […]