After-Harvest Process

After Harvest Process

 

PRODUCT STORY - FROM COCOA TREE TO CHOCOLATE

     1. Harvesting cocoa pods

Once cocoa pods are ripped -around 12 weeks after flowering- farmers proceed to manually collect them one by one from the trunk and tree branches using hand pruners. Since during the lifespan of a productive coco tree -at least 30 years, although there are reports of 80 years old still in production-, flowers are located and produced at the same “floral cushions”, technically referred as “floral meristem”, farmers are very careful to avoid damaging those structures that represents the productivity of the tree.

 

Along every step of the story, the yield of the process will be described but for now, let's say that farmers have to gather enough cocoa pods to fill up wooden fermentation boxes usually with no less than 300 kg of fresh cocoa.

 

100 kg of cocoa pods x 30% = 30 kg of fresh cocoa

From 100 kg of cocoa pods only 30% yield fresh cocoa (30 kg) that goes into fermentation

 

     2. Pre-Fermentation

Before fermentation, cocoa pods are broken to obtain fresh cocoa which consist of cocoa pulp and cocoa seeds. Cocoa pulp is on average 30 % of the weight of the cocoa pod, is very fleshy and contains cocoa seeds.

 

     3. Fermentation

Fermentation starts by filling a wooden box with fresh cocoa and covering it with a “lid” of banana leaves or other materials that allow sitting fresh cocoa to unchain a series of chemical reactions. The pulp releases liquid sugars that when in contact with oxygen and microorganisms in an enclosed environment, facilitate a thermic and chemical reaction that lasts between five to 8 days to produce fermented cocoa beans. This is equivalent to 65% of the weight of the initial fresh cocoa. At the end of fermentation, the pulp is gone and the remaining is fermented seeds that are not viable for reproduction and then called fermented cocoa beans.

 

30 kg of fresh cocoa x 65% = 19.5 kg of fermented cocoa beans

From that 30 kg of fresh cocoa, only 65% of it yields fermented cocoa beans (19.5 kg), which then goes into the Drying Process.

     4. Drying

Fermented cocoa beans obtained have to be dried during 3 to 5 days to avoid mold and fungi contamination. Commonly, this step is done on the ground at many farms in the world. In our case, we dry fermented cocoa beans on top of wooden tables inside of greenhouses or movable roofs, controlling temperature and sun exposition. Only 32% of the weight of fermented beans will result in dry cocoa beans. Also during this process irregular, non fermented or defective beans are removed from the batch. 

 

19.5 kg of fermented cocoa beans x 32% = 6.24 kg of dry cocoa beans

From that 19.5 kg of fermented cocoa beans, only 32% of it yields dry cocoa beans (6.24 kg).

     5. Selection

Dry cocoa beans are now hand sorted verifying sizes and quality of the beans, then packed in breathable poly bags to preserve flavours. When dealing with fine flavour cocoa beans we prefer to pass on using nice rough burlap bags. At this stage, an additional loss of 2% in weight of dry cocoa beans is normal to our standards.

6.24 kg of fermented cocoa beans x 2% weight loss = 6.12 kg of selected dry cocoa beans for exportation.

     6. Processing

Packed dry cocoa beans now are ready to export and for chocolate makers to use them in their recipes.

From start to finish, only about 6% of product makes the cut. Quality goes into making the most out of every one of our Fine Flavour Cocoa Beans. Taste the richness of our story.

 

Please note the huge gap between the cocoa pod and the dry cocoa bean, which in our case is technically standardized but in other cases barely established.

 

Thus, a cocoa pod contains 30% of fresh cocoa used to fill up wooden fermentation boxes. Fresh cocoa yields 65% of its weight as fermented cocoa beans and from it subsequently, 32% is obtained as dry cocoa beans. For example:

 

From 100 kg of cocoa pods x 30% = 30 kg of fresh cocoa

30 kg of fresh cocoa x 65% = 19.5 kg of fermented cocoa beans

19.5 kg of fermented cocoa beans x 32% = 6.24 kg of dry cocoa beans

6.25 kg of dry cocoa beans x 2% weight loss = 6.12 kg of selected dry cocoa beans.