The origin of the Cacao Tree
The cacao tree is a tropical evergreen plant and was christened Theobroma Cacao during the 18th century by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus. Theobroma Cacao means “food of the gods” from the Greek ‘Theo’ meaning ‘god’ and ‘broma’ meaning ‘food’, reflecting the reverence chocolate has
The tree bears fruit in the form of bright red, green, purple, or yellow pods that change color as the ripen. The pods are harvested from May to December and are cut using long-handled, curved steel knives because the trees are too frail to climb
This is the first stage of the flavor development. The beans and their surrounding layer of pulp are taken out of the pods and covered in banana leaves. After 3-9 days they have turned a dark brown color and give off a wonderful cocoa smell. The beans are then dried and graded.
The cocoa beans are then roasted, which further develops the flavor and aromas and enriches the color. Milder varieties of bean tend to be roasted at lower temperature than stronger varieties.
The beans pass through a machine, which cracks them open and separates the husks from the nibs (center of the bean)
Grinding & Mixing
The winnowed beans are ground, which refines the cocoa particles, releasing the cocoa butter and the cocoa mass (a liquid pulp) both these, and other basic ingredients such as sugar and milk powder are mixed and kneaded. Further grinding steel rollers reduced the particle size even more.
The refining process removes unwanted flavors and aromas. The liquid chocolate is constantly agitated and heat treated, and flavors are added. By the end of this process the chocolate develops its full flavor and characteristic velvety smoothness.
The liquid chocolate is cooled from 45 °C to approximately 28 °C then heated again to 30°C. This is a critical stage which, when done correctly, delivers the perfect structure of cocoa butter crystals, resulting in chocolate having a high glass finish and sharp snap when broken.