The fermentation process
Cocoa is obtained from the seeds of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao), which grows mainly in equatorial areas. Its fruits are picked several times a year. After which the fruits of the cocoa tree are cracked open.
The core of the fruit holds some 40 to 50 seeds. The beans/seeds are covered with banana leaves, which causes the temperature to rise to approximately 50°Celsius. The bacteria that live at this temperature start the fermentation process, which takes about five days. The germ of the seed dies and the colour of the bean changes from purple to brown. Subsequently, the beans are dried in the sun or in drying houses.
The next step is producing the cocoa mass. Fermented, dried cocoa beans are successively cleaned, roasted, broken, dehulled, roasted again, and finally ground. Cocoa liquor, a kind of paste, is the end result.
This liquor is processed into cocoa powder. During this process a large proportion of the fat, the cocoa butter, is squeezed out of the liquor. After pressing, a presscake remains that is then ground into cocoa powder.
Analysis of cocoa
Our laboratory analyses raw cocoa beans, cocoa powder, cocoa liquor and end products made with cocoa. We test for the presence of fat, free acidity content, pH levels, fineness, moisture, aflatoxin, ochratoxin, among other things. In addition, we perform organoleptic assessment and a cutting test. We also test cadmium levels in cocoa.