From the harvest to the cocoa mass

Processing the cocoa pods


 

Harvesting the cocoa pods

The cocoa tree grows in the tropics. Each tree produces just 20 to 50 pods per year, each weighing around 500g. The pods are harvested by workers on the ground using machetes and long bamboo poles with sharp knives attached.

 

Fermentation

The gathered cocoa pods are transported to regional collection points, where they are opened with machetes. The pulp and cocoa beans inside the pod are removed and piled into baskets or laid out in large boxes. The beans are left for two to six days in the shade of large banana leaves. During this time, the beans ferment. During fermentation, the pulp is separated from the beans, the beans lose their ability to germinate, and the first flavours begin to develop.

 

Drying

After fermentation, the beans contain up to 60% water, which can result in mould and rot. Before the beans can be stored and processed, they have to be dried. The beans are spread out to dry on mats or in large flat boxes, and turned frequently. After drying, the water content is around 7% and the beans are ready to be transported to Europe.

 

Cleaning

Before actual processing takes place, the beans are thoroughly cleaned using sieves and brushes, so as to remove any pieces of wood, sand and fine dust that remain.

 

Roasting

The main purpose of roasting is to allow the flavour of the beans to develop. Up to 400 aromatic substances are released during the process. During roasting, the cocoa beans lose more moisture, which makes them easier to shell later on.

 

Cracking and shelling

The aim of cracking is to separate the bean from the shell. Using a cutter, the cocoa beans are broken into medium-sized chunks. These broken pieces of cocoa are then separated from the shells using screens and suction devices.

 

Grinding

In the next stage, the coarse cocoa nibs are ground. This produces heat, which melts the cocoa butter inside the beans to produce a thick mass. This cocoa mass provides the basis for chocolate production.

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Manufacturing of the cocoa mass

Chocolate production


 

Mixing the ingredients

The cocoa mass is mixed with the required ingredients. Different amounts of cocoa butter, milk powder, sugar and other ingredients are added according to the recipe. This takes place in a huge mixer. At this stage, the chocolate mass tastes almost like the finished product. But because the individual ingredients are coarse-grained, the mass still tastes gritty.

 

Rolling

To refine the chocolate and remove all traces of the gritty texture, the cocoa mass is rolled into a very thin sheet by several rollers. This sheet is thinner than a strand of human hair.

 

Conching

At this stage, the cocoa mass is still too bitter and harsh, and the flavours of the individual ingredients have not yet combined. The chocolate mass is heated to around 80°C in the ‘conch’, where it is continuously stirred for several hours. This causes the bitter flavours to evaporate and allows the desired flavours to fully develop.

Pouring

 Finally, the chocolate is poured: Into a mould to make solid chocolate bars, such as our Maestrani bars. As a coating for chocolate-covered bars, for example for our Munz Prügeli bars. Or as a chocolate bar, such as our Minor sticks

Once the chocolate is in the desired mould, it is cooled and then packaged.