• The scientific name for chocolate is “Theobroma Cacao.” Cacao trees, from which coco beans come, grow around the world in a band spreading 20 degrees north and south of the Equator.

  • Cacao trees produce flowers that become pods that grow on the trunk and branches. There is a mid-crop and main harvest followed by continuous picking.

  • Opened pods show about 42 beans covered by a white coating. Depending on variety, pods can be bright yellow to orange, various shades of green to red.

  • The beans are laid out on screen racks in the sun and covered with banana leaves where they ferment. Fermentation removes the white coating, affecting the inner and outer parts of the bean, creating its characteristic flavor. Larger operations use a heat controlled rotating process to ferment the beans. When this is completed, the beans are ready for shipment.

  • Cacao beans arrive from many countries on four continents – Africa, Asia, Central and South America. They are tested dockside and if accepted are shipped to factories where they are cleaned and sifted for size, and roasted in large heated roasting ovens.

  • After roasting, the beans are sent through a machine that removes the shells in a process called winnowing. This reveals the “nibs” which are pressed between heated rollers making a thick mixture called “Chocolate Liquor.” Under hydraulic pressure Cocoa Butter is drawn off leaving “Cocoa Cake.”

  • Milk plus Chocolate Liquor forms a substance called Chocolate Crumb. This mixed with Cocoa Butter and other ingredients go through a refiner to produce fine thin flakes. Next, they are “conched,” a process that takes a set number of days, that removes moisture and any remaining harsh flavor, mixing and ventilating for perfect flavor.

  • Warmed chocolate is made slightly cooler by adding additional chocolate – a process called “seeding,” and then the temperature is raised up again. This process is called “tempering” and it produces a finished piece of chocolate which is non-grainy, has a high sheen, and snaps when cooled and broken. Properly made, nothing replaces the taste of real chocolate.

Check out this video on how chocolate is grown. Courtesy of the NCA.