Bean to Bar
Cocoa beans come in three primary species, Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. Criollo is the cream of the crop and has the most delicate and complex array of flavors. The Forastero has a strong full cocoa flavour but can be very bitter tasting. Eighty five percent of the cocoa harvested worldwide is Forastero. Trinitario is a hybrid of the two and is often referred to as a flavour or spice cocoa.
Each cacao pod holds approximately forty (40) beans which have a white, sugary mucilage-like coating around each bean. The beans are removed from the pods and then collected for fermenting.
The collected beans are placed in fermentation boxes or “sweatboxes.” The coating provides a food source for the bean as it germinates, and the sugar needed during the fermentation process. Fermentation helps remove the tannins present in the cacao bean to bring out the absolute best flavors. Fermentation takes 6 to 10 days.
After fermentation, the cocoa beans are dried by spreading them on trays and leaving them in the sun to dry. The drying process usually takes about a week.
Roasting completely kills any potential surface contamination that may be present in the beans and develops the colour and flavour of the beans.
During winnoing, the outer shell of the beans is removed, and the inner cocoa bean meat is broken into small pieces called “cocoa nibs.”
Grinding/conching involves heating, mixing, and grinding the cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, and sugar for several hours to several days to produce a smooth cocoa liquor. Due to the high flavour of Trinitario beans only cane sugar is added during the grinding process
Tempering is a method of heating and cooling the cocoa liquor to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals to produce chocolate that has a smooth and glossy finish. The tempered chocolate will also have a crisp snap and will not melt on your fingers. Once tempered the chocolate is poured into moulds to create unique designs.