The transformation of cocoa beans into semi finished products like chocolate and cocoa powder involves several processes. Before anything could be done in the process, cocoa beans must undergo fermentation and be thoroughly dried. After which they passes through the following stages.
11 Stages of Cocoa Bean Processing
To ensure quality production, cocoa beans should be properly sorted and cleaned in order to remove particles and non cocoa bean materials.
For colour and chocolate extraction, cocoa beans are subjected to roasting at normal temperature depending on the type of beans.
- Removal of Shells
The shells of the beans are removed with the help of a winnowing machine for the extraction of the cocoa nibs and the nibs are then heat-treated to eliminate possible bacteria.
The nibs then undergo the process called alkalization with the use of potassium carbonate in order to develop the flavour and colour.
Whether just one type of cocoa beans are used or more than one, they are milled to create cocoa liquor under appropriate temperature.
The liquor is then pressed to extract cocoa butter which leaves a solid mass particles referred to as ‘cocoa presscake’
The processing now goes into two different directions. The presscake is broken into small pieces to form grinded presscake which are then crushed to produce cocoa powder while the cocoa butter is used to produce chocolate. Chocolate production is the addition and mixture of cocoa butter and other ingredients like sugar, milk and other emulsifying agents.
- Refining and Blending
The mixture then pass through the refining and blending process to produce a smooth paste of chocolate.
For texture and flavour development, the mixture further undergo a process called ‘conching’ which is the smoothing of the mixture.
- Tempering and Moulding
To prevent discolouration, the mixture then undergo heating and be allowed to cool slowly. It can then be poured into molds. Large scale producers will need machines and conveyors that deposit exactly the right amount of chocolate into each mold while small scale manufacturers can do this part by hand. After which they are allowed to harden and cut into desired shapes and sizes like blocks, drops or other solid shapes.
In case of mass production, they can then be stored in a clean, dry (relative humidity max. 70 %) and odourless environment with the storage temperature between 12 and 20°C.