From bean to chocolate
The cocoa tree grows in tropical regions.There are 3 main varieties: Forastero, which is the most widespread variety and which yields a plain, slightly bitter cocoa. Criollo, which is the most delicate and which yields a particularly fine and sophisticated cocoa. Trinitario, which yields a cocoa that is both plain and fine.
The pods are harvested twice a year. As soon as the pods are picked the seeds are removed, a process called "ecabossage", usually carried out by hand using a special wooden club to split the pod. The seeds then undergo firstly a fermentation, followed by a drying process, this latter lasting 1 to 2 weeks. The seeds are then referred to as cocoa beans.
Like coffee, the flavour of cocoa beans develops only after roasting. The beans areroasted, with the temperature and length of roasting determining the final flavour. The beans are then milled to form a cocoa paste or mass.
Chocolate is made by adding sugar, cocoa butter and lastly milk to the cocoa mass. This mixture is then milled again and mixed for a long time to produce a chocolate that is smooth and homogeneous. This process is called conching.
Cocoa powder & butter
Both cocoa butter and cocoa powder are derived from cocoa mass. The mass is pressed and filtered to separate the liquid from the solids. The liquid part becomes cocoa butter, and the solids are milled to yield cocoa powder.