From the Bean
We now come to the remarkable art of chocolate making, a process
that is comparable with the skill and finesse of the world's
greatest chefs. The manufacturing process requires much time
and painstaking care. Just to make an individual-size chocolate
bar, for instance, takes from two to four days or more.
Manufacturing methods will differ in detail from plant to plant,
but there is a general processing pattern which prevails everywhere.
It is this pattern that makes the chocolate industry distinctive
from every other industry.
For example, all manufacturers carefully catalogue each shipment
according to its particular type and origin. This is very important,
because it enables them later to maintain exact control over
the flavor blending of beans for roasting.
Prior to Roasting
While awaiting the blending process, the beans are carefully
stored. The storage area must be isolated from the rest of the
building so the sensitive cocoa does not come into contact with
strong odors which it may absorb as an off-flavor. Every step
of the way so far reflects the close regulation of conditions
which is needed to ensure the production of uniformly high quality
The first step to actual manufacturing is cleaning. This is
done by passing the cocoa beans through a cleaning machine that
removes dried cacao pulp, pieces of pod and other extraneous
material that had not been removed earlier.
When thoroughly cleaned, the beans are carefully weighed and
blended according to a company's particular specifications.
These formulas are based on experience and desirability. In
the science of chocolate making, much depends upon the ability
to achieve the right formula for the desired end product through
the proper selection of beans available.
To bring out the characteristic chocolate aroma, the beans are
roasted in large rotary cylinders. Depending upon the variety
of the beans and the desired end result, the roasting lasts
from 30 minutes to two hours at temperatures of 250 degrees
Fahrenheit and higher.
As the beans turn over and over, their moisture content drops,
their color changes to a rich brown, and the characteristic
aroma of chocolate becomes evident.
What Follows Roasting
Proper roasting is one of the keys to good flavor, but there
are still several more steps to follow. After roasting, the
beans are quickly cooled and their thin shells, made brittle
by roasting, are removed. In most factories, this is done by
a "cracker and fanner," a giant winnowing machine that passes
the beans between serrated cones so they are cracked rather
In the process, a series of mechanical sieves separate the broken
pieces into large and small grains while fans blow away the
thin, light shell from the meat or "nibs."
The nibs, which contain about 53 percent cocoa butter, are next
conveyed to mills, where they are crushed between large grinding
stones or heavy steel discs. The process generates enough frictional
heat to liquefy the cocoa butter and form what is commercially
know as chocolate liquor.
The term liquor does not refer to alcohol, it simply means liquid.
When the liquid is poured into molds and allowed to solidify,
the resulting cakes are unsweetened or bitter chocolate.
Up to this point, the manufacturing of cocoa and chocolate is
identical. The process now diverges, but there is an important
interconnection to be noted.
The by-product of cocoa shortly becomes an essential component
of chocolate. That component is the unique vegetable fat, cocoa
butter, which forms about 25 percent of the weight of most chocolate