Sourcing Vanilla: A Trip Report Part 2

Before I left, I gave Jeanne Chan a sample of our chocolate we had made using her beans. Thrilled, she quickly scurried off to put it in a cool place for safekeeping. When she returned, she showed me other products that people had given to her that were made with her vanilla. There were the […]

Sourcing Vanilla: A Trip Report Part 1

Food has the ability to tie people together no matter their race, culture, politics, religion, or other propensities. Food is the life-giving sustenance that ties us together. What we eat speaks not only to who we are as people but even to how we value life itself. It takes just a few minutes more to […]

Villahermosa, Mexico Trip

I arrived on a beautiful Mexican night. Upon exiting the airport, I was greeted by the sounds of the tropical crickets and other insects chirping away in rhythmic unison. As we traveled to my hotel, my guide filled me in on the goings on among the cocoa growers in the area as well as a […]

How Much Caffeine is in Chocolate?

Caffeine Molecule

How Much Caffeine is in Chocolate? People often ask us, “Does chocolate have caffeine?” and if so, “How much caffeine is in chocolate?” For the record, chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine. Chocolate also contains another closely related substance called theobromine in much larger levels, and the presence of these two closely related substances has […]

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 […]