The Chocolate Process: From Bean to Bar

Chocolate begins with a single seed. Planted seeds sprout and eventually become trees.

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These trees bear a fruit known as cacao (pronounced “kuh-cow”).

Cacao fruit contains several seeds which are covered in a sticky cotton candy like substance.  This coating is incredibly sweet.  In areas where cacao commonly grows, locals often just eat this substance and discard the seed.

Once harvested, the cacao beans are dried and fermented on racks to remove their outer sticky coating.  The end result looks something like a nut with a shell.  From here, the cacao is then roasted for 15 to 20 minutes which brings out the luscious chocolate flavor and aroma.

Once roasted, the shells are removed to reveal the bean underneath.  Have you ever tried cacao nibs?  They are simply cacao beans at this stage in the process, broken into small tasty pieces.

Nibs are then ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor.  Despite the name, it does not contain alcohol.

Ground cacao is then run through a machine which further refines the chocolate liquor and natural oils down – the resulting chocolate paste has a more silky texture.

Chocolate liquor is then mixed with ingredients such as condensed milk, sugar and extra cocoa butter to make a delicious liquid chocolate mixture.

The liquid chocolate mixture is heated and cooled (tempered) giving chocolate its glossy sheen. Now the chocolate is ready to be molded into bars and to finally enjoy!

Wild cacao photos provided by Compañeros Wild Cacao Farm in Costa Rica.  For more information about cacao farming, please visit their website.