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Cocoa Beans Products.

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Cacao beans also called cocoa, is the dried and fermented seed of Theobroma cacao from which cocoa butter and solid cocoa can be extracted. It is the basis for chocolate.[1]

Cultivation of Cocoa

A suitable climate is necessary for cocoa cultivation. It requires temperatures between 18–32◦C (65–90◦F) and a steady amount of rain throughout the year of between 1000 and 4000mm (40–160 in.) per year, but preferably between 1500 and 2500 mm (60 and 100 in.). Growing cocoa requires high humidity, typically between 70–80% during the day and 90–100% at night.[2]

cocoa pod hanging on tree

Varieties of Cocoa

There are now several types of cacao beans produced around the world. The four main varieties of the cacao plant are:[3]

  1. Forastero: Trees grow in West Africa, Central America, North and South America, Brazil and Ecuador. The ripe pods are green or yellow, and the wall of the pod is very thick and woody. It accounts for 80% to 90% of the world’s cocoa production. The quality of most Forastero cocoa beans is considered “standard”.
  2. Criollo: Grown in Indonesia, Central and South America. Pods are yellow or red when ripe, with deep furrows and big warts. make up less than 1 to 5% of the world’s cocoa production. Due to the rarity, and unique, complex flavor, criollo beans are considered super fine cocoa and valued by specialist chocolate makers.
  3. Trinitario: Trees spread across the globe and can be found in Venezuela, Ecuador, Cameroon, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Java and Papua New Guinea. The pods are long or short, red and yellow. It make up less than 10% of the total cacao production. The quality of the beans is fairly goog quality but not as good as Criollo.
  4. Nacional Cocoa: Is the least known cacao, which was only recently rediscovered in Peru in 2011. Regarded as the world’s rarest cacao.
    Chocolates made with Nacional beans are rich, creamy, and with little bitterness.
cocoa fruits on the ground

Harvesting

Cocoa fruits are harvested by removing their pods from their trees and removing the beans and pulp from the interior. It takes 7 to 10 days for the pods to ripen, and they can be left on trees up to two weeks before harvesting. Therefore, cocoa may be harvested within a 3-week window.[2]

farmer cutting cocoa pod

Flavors of Cocoa Beans

Genetic factors influence both the quality and intensity of chocolate’s flavor, as well as the quantity and activity of enzymes involved in forming flavors. However, post-harvest processes (fermentation and drying) and roasting have a strong effect on the final flavor[4].

Every bean variety has its own unique flavor profile. Growing conditions such as climate, sunshine amount of rainfall, soil conditions, ripening, harvesting time, and the interval between harvest and fermentation all influence how the bean’s final flavor is formed.[5]

Manufacturing Processes

A cacao tree’s seeds have an intense bitter taste, and to develop their flavor they need to be fermented. Once the seeds have fermented, they are dried, cleaned, and roasted. Shells are removed to produce cocoa nibs, which are then ground to make cocoa mass. As a result of heating, the cocoa mass is liquefied and called chocolate liquor. Also, the liquor may be cooled and then separated into cocoa solids and cocoa butter.[1]

Chocolate Manufacturing Processes

Generally, the chocolate manufacturing process consists of the following steps:[2]

  • Mixing
  • Refining
  • Conching of chocolate paste
  • Tempering and depositing
  • Molding and demolding

Chocolate Liquor

Chocolate liquor (cocoa liquor) is pure cocoa mass that is solid or semi-solid. There are approximately equal amounts of cocoa solids and cocoa butter in it. It is made from fermented, dried, roasted, and skinned cocoa beans. Chocolate liquor is pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the non-fat cocoa solids.[6]

Cocoa Butter

Also called theobroma oil, is a saturated fat obtained from cocoa tree beans, stable at room temperature. It is used in chocolate, candy, baking, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The butter in its natural state is light yellow in color and has a chocolate aroma.

close shot of cocoa butter on a wooden table

Cocoa Solids

They are the components of cocoa beans remaining after cocoa butter, the fatty component of the bean, is extracted from chocolate liquor.

top view of a powdered cocoa

Different Types of Chocolate

Chocolate is produced in different forms and flavors by varying the quantities of the ingredients. Roasting the beans at different temperatures and times will give them other flavors. Below is a list of most known chocolate type available on the market:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • White chocolate
  • Raw chocolate
  • Compound chocolate
collection of dark, milk and white chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Plain chocolate is made with a higher percentage of cocoa, and all the fat is derived from cocoa butter. Dark chocolate usually contains a high cocoa percentage, ranging from 70% to 100%. Baking chocolate without added sugar may be labeled “unsweetened chocolate”.

close shot of dark chocolate

Milk Chocolate

The chocolate is made with milk, either powdered milk, liquid milk, or condensed milk.[7]

close shot of milk chocolate

White Chocolate

It is made from sugar, milk, and cocoa butter, without cocoa solids. At room temperature, it does not melt, since it is below the melting point of cocoa butter.

close shot of a white chocolate on a wooden table

Raw Chocolate

It is chocolate that has not been processed, heated, or blended with other products. In chocolate-growing countries, it is often labeled as healthy.[8]

Compound Chocolate

The term refers to a confection that combines cocoa with other vegetable fats, usually tropical fats or hydrogenated fats, in place of cocoa butter. This is often used to coat candy bars. In some countries, it cannot be legally called “chocolate”.[9]

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References

  1. Cocoa bean on Wiki.
  2. Chocolate Science and Technology Book by Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa 2010
  3. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Rome 1977 © French edition, Institut africain pour le développement économique et social (INADES) 1967 © English edition, FAO 1970
  4. Kattenberg & Kemming, 1993; Clapperton et al., 1994; Luna et al., 2002; Counet & Collin, 2003.
  5. afoakwa et al November 2008 Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 48(9):840-57
  6. “Cocoa butter pressing”The Grenada Chocolate Company
  7. Moskin, Julia (13 February 2008). “Dark may be king, but milk chocolate makes a move”
  8. Cahalane, Claudia (30 March 2007). “A raw deal”The Guardian. London
  9. “Labelling Requirements for Confectionery, Chocolate and Snack Food Products”. Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 
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