Villagers React To Cocoa Fruit Harvesting – Cocoa Processing To Make Chocolate in Factory

How do those brightly coloured cacao pods get turned into your delicious chocolate bar? There are many stages along the way and there’s no doubt that the chocolatier plays a crucial role. But the first important steps is harvesting and processing the cacao.
Just like in specialty coffee, harvesting and processing are crucial for high-quality fine cacao. But it’s not easy. We’re talking long, complex procedures and painstaking attention to detail.
I spoke to several cacao producers to unveil the magic behind producing cacao beans. Let’s take a look at what they do.

Harvesting Cocoa

Harvesting Cocoa

Pods containing cocoa beans grow from the trunk and branches of the cocoa tree. Harvesting involves removing ripe pods from the trees and opening them to extract the wet beans. The pods are harvested manually by making a clean cut through the stalk with a well sharpened blade. For pods high on the tree, a pruning hook type of tool can be used, with a handle on the end of a long pole. By pushing or pulling according to the position of the fruit, the upper and lower blades of the tool enable the stalk to be cut cleanly without damaging the branch that bears it.

The pods are opened to remove the beans within a week to 10 days after harvesting. In general, the harvested pods are grouped together and split either in or at the edge of the plantation. Sometimes the pods are transported to a fermentary before splitting. If the pods are opened in the planting areas, the discarded husks can be distributed throughout the fields to return nutrients to the soil.


The best way of opening the pods is to use a wooden club which, if it strikes the central area of the pod, causes it to split into two halves; it is then easy to remove the wet beans by hand. A cutting tool, such as a machete, is often used to split the pod, though this can damage the beans. Some machinery has been developed for pod opening, but smallholders in general carry out the process manually. After extraction from the pod, the beans undergo a fermentation and drying process before being bagged for delivery.

The process from from cocoa to chocolate

Each tree can yield about 20-30 pods per year, and it takes one tree’s entire annual harvest to make roughly a pound of chocolate.
Once harvested, the cocoa pod is cracked open and the rind is discarded; the pulp and seed pods are what farmers are after. There are about 30-50 seeds per pod, and these are responsible for making the chocolate we love. It’s hard to imagine from the way they look in their raw form.

Cocoa beans

Next, the seeds and pulp are left to ferment. Amano Chocolate, a gourmet chocolatier, explains that fermentation helps bring out the desired flavors of the cocoa, and it adds a body and richness that unfermented beans lack. It also tames the cocoa seed’s bitterness by reducing the amount of tannins found in the beans thanks to cellular changes that occur during the process.
Fermentation often happens in sweatboxes and takes about two to eight days. During fermentation the pulp is converted into alcohol, which according to Ecole Chocolat turns into lactic and acetic acid when mixed with air. This essentially ensures that the beans will not germinate, which would make the bean unusable. During fermentation, the sticky pulp turns to liquid and drains off on its own, and just the bean is left behind and ready to be dried.

The seeds and pulp are left to ferment

The best way to dry the beans is in the sun, though artificial drying does occur in places where the climate makes it necessary. It is important that they are properly dried ― bringing them from 60 percent moisture to under 10 percent ― to ensure the beans don’t rot. Drying takes on average five to six days.
Once dried, the cocoa beans that were once wet, sticky and purple-white-ish in tone have become a beautiful red-brown color. They are then packed and ready to ship to chocolate manufacturers all over the world.

Just like with coffee beans, cocoa has to be roasted before being used. Armano Chocolate explains that roasting further brings out the flavor of chocolate from the bean. The time and temperature of roasting depends on the flavors the chocolate manufacturer wants to extract. It’s during roasting that the beans are cracked, the hulls discarded and the “meat of the cocoa” is crushed and taken aside to be made into chocolate.
At this point, we have cocoa nibs, which are sometimes used “as is” in baking and other culinary uses.

Cocoa has to be roasted before being used

But if they continue on the chocolate journey, the cocoa nibs must be pressed into what’s known as cocoa liquor, even though there is no alcohol in it. This liquid can be turned into many different chocolate confections with the addition of sugar and other ingredients. It can also be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which you can see below.
One reason the liquor is turned into either solids or butter or is to create chocolate beverages with solids ground into cocoa powder, which benefits from a lower fat content. Another is to make white chocolate ― which actually uses no chocolate liquor ― with the cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is also reserved to be put back into chocolate. It’s what gives chocolate its smooth mouthfeel. But some chocolate producers sell the cocoa butter to be used in cosmetics and other applications, replacing it in chocolate with vegetable oils. Unfortunately, this produces inferior chocolate.

Some chocolate producers will make chocolate from cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and an emulsifier like soy lecithin.
That dreamy liquid chocolate is then molded, packaged and shipped to stores near you.

From cocoa to chocolate

In the video below, you can see Villagers React To Cocoa Fruit Harvesting – Cocoa Processing To Make Chocolate in Factory
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Video resource : Noal Farm

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