How chocolate is made | From Cacao Beans to Chocolate

May 11 , 2020


Andres Paredes

How chocolate is made | From Cacao Beans to Chocolate

Everybody loves a rich, deep, and satisfying bar of chocolate, but not everybody knows exactly what it takes to make it. The journey from cacao bean to chocolate bar is complex. It’s an art and a science to grow and then process cacao pods into the world’s finest chocolate. In this article we will take you through, step by step, the process of how the finest cacao beans make it into exceptional chocolate.

Criollo (Arriba Variety) Cacao Pods 

#1 The cacao tree

The cacao tree is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae, native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America. On the trunk of the tree grow the cacao pods, which contain the beans. Rainforest Flavor cacao is grown only in Fair Trade 100% certified organic farms.   

Fresh Cacao Beans 

#3 Cacao Beans

Each stage of the process is crucial, but none more so than the sorting of the cacao beans. To be fine aroma quality, the beans must be sorted with the overripe, underripe, and spoiled beans discarded. The farmers doing the quality control of the sorting know exactly what beans will make for a great finished product. Only 5% of the world’s chocolate is the fine aroma and made according to these exacting standards.  

Lowering Humidity before Sun Drying 

#5 Sun Drying

This is the stage where the chemical processes started during fermentation is allowed to finish. Sun-drying not only evaporates the water in the bean which concentrates the flavor, it also reduces any bitterness. Allowing the beans to dry slowly in the sun is a crucial step in determining the quality of the cacao beans.  

cacao nibs 

#7 Cacao Nibs / Cocoa Nibs

Nibs are chocolate in its purest form. After the husk is removed from the bean after roasting, what is left are the nibs. Cacao nibs are very rich in iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber. They are considered a superfood with many health benefits. They can be eaten on their own, but in this case, they will be further processed to make chocolate.    

Cacao Paste 

#9 Cacao Paste

After the cacao beans are fermented, dried, and, finally, roasted, they are removed from the hull and ground. At this point, the mix is about 55% cacao butter which would then be separated. This paste, also called chocolate liquor, is 100% pure, raw chocolate. Also called chocolate liquor as it liquefies once it is ground, at room temperature, it becomes solid again. This cacao paste is prized by chocolatiers and home chocolate makers alike for it’s amazing characteristics and pure chocolate taste. This pure expression of chocolate has some interesting health benefits, such as an ability to lower blood pressure and as an anti-inflammatory. There are many ways to prepare cacao paste. Add some sugar or other sweetener and enjoy the silky smooth texture. Break it into chips and add to your favorite trail mix, in brownies or even to make a uniquely rich fudge.  






Cacao beans before fermentation 

 #2 Cacao Pods

The pods can range in color from orange to golden and yellow. Not all pods ripen at the same time. It takes a discerning eye to determine when the pod is exactly at the right moment to pick. Our farmers are experts and must handpick each pod.

Fermenting Boxes 

#4 Fermentation

Without fermentation, there is no chocolate. Once the beans are sorted they are left to ferment together. The chemical processes during this stage are what gives chocolate its distinctive flavor. Unfermented cacao can be bitter and very tannic.

Cacao Roaster 

# 6Roasting

Once the beans are sun-dried, it is time to roast them. This serves a practical purpose as well as a means to develop flavor. The husks are more easily removed when the beans are roasted, the beans are sterilized from bacteria and mold and the vinegar smell is removed. It is this step that concentrates the flavors in the bean and gives them their distinctive, rich chocolate flavor.  

cacao butter / cocoa butter 

#8 Cacao Butter / Cocoa Butter

Cacao nibs contain about 54% vegetable fat. When pressed, this fate is removed from the nibs and is called cacao butter. Cacao butter is what gives chocolate its silky texture and allows it to melt in your mouth. It is solid at room temperature, which helps chocolate keep its solid shape and crispness. It is ideal for use in cosmetic products as well as chocolate. read:

  • Cacao butter benefits
  • How to make cocoa butter lotion
  • How to make cocoa butter sticks
  • How to make cocoa butter for hair

cacao powder benefits 

#10 Cacao Powder / Cocoa Powder

Once the cacao butter has been removed from the nibs, they can be then ground down into a powder. As a powder, it can be used in anything from baking cakes, to making smoothies. Cacao powder is an excellent antioxidant, among the strongest of any foods. The flavonoid content gives a mighty boost to the immune system in addition to being delicious! It’s the cacao powder that is added back to melted cacao butter to make an actual chocolate bar. All the flavors of the cacao powder will give the chocolate its complex aromas. read:

  • Cocoa powder benefits
  • How to make Homemade chocolate with cacao powder



# 11 Chocolate

This is the final form from the humble pods all the way to the decadent chocolate bars. The world’s finest chocolatiers make masterpieces thanks to the quality of our entire process. Making the chocolate that everybody is familiar with is going to be different according to each chocolatier. But, essentially, the cacao butter and cacao powder are mixed back together and tempered. Tempering is a process that melts the chocolate and forms the crystals as it cools to make fine-textured chocolate that isn’t grainy. When every step of this process is done with care, the quality of the final product is unmistakable. read:
  • How to make Homemade chocolate 
  • Difference between real chocolate and fake chocolate 

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