Cocoa Processing: A Bean to Cup Story
Perfect for the cold weather, having a hot cup of cocoa is a holiday tradition that is well and alive throughout the world today. Its full, rich taste that brings back childhood memories and warms you from your core to your fingertips can be so addicting. But, have you ever wondered how your cup of cocoa came to be? What are the steps in cocoa processing from bean to your cup?
The journey begins at its source: the cocoa tree. This type of tree grows in many locations all over the world, but around 70% of all cocoa beans come from West African countries specifically Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast.
These trees bear fruits called cocoa pods, which are harvested carefully. Farmers use sharp blades to cut the pods from branches to make sure that the trees are not damaged during harvest season. Inside the pods are the cocoa beans, which at this point are still enclosed by a soft white pulp that is also edible and has a sweet, mildly floral taste.
After harvesting and opening the pods, the beans inside must undergo fermentation for an average of five to seven days. The beans are gathered and stored in a fermentation box where microorganisms begin to break down the pulp. The excess product liquifies and is drained away. Then, the beans are cleaned and dried for a period of time until the moisture content is at 7%. This is done through slow drying. It is important that the drying process is secured from inclement weather or high humidity levels because cocoa beans are highly sensitive to moisture. Rewetting can greatly lessen their quality and may even result to mold growth.
After drying, the beans are roasted. This process varies depending on the preference or recipe of chocolate makers. Afterward, the thin papery shell around the beans is removed through a process called winnowing. Pure cocoa beans are then exposed, which are called ‘nibs’. These are then ground and made into cocoa powder. Producers of chocolate drinks add various ingredients to the cocoa powder so that it would taste rich and sweet when made into a hot drink.
Throughout the cocoa processing, the beans are treated as a high-value commodity. It only makes sense that these are stored, transported, and dried using the most secure solutions. One such solution is the use of hermetic products, which are air- and moisture-tight. The superior barrier properties of GrainPro’s Ultra Hermetic™ Solutions are perfect in ensuring that cocoa beans are protected throughout its journey from source to destination.
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