TREE TO BAR
” If the finest wines in the world can trace it’s origin all the way from the vine to the bottle , why should the finest chocolate be any different ” – Christopher Boodoosingh – CEO
We source all our cocoa beans one hour drive from our factory. This allows us to roast freshly after post harvest, going from tree-to-bar in a short time. Capturing our unique flavour notes in the process.
Getting the pods off the tree must be done carefully so as to avoid damaging the tree trunk. New flowers and fruit will emerge from these same spots once left unhurt. A pair of pruning shears works best. Make a clean cut of the stem closest to the pod, not the tree trunk.
Several methods and tools can be used, but regardless of technique/tool used, the aim must always be the same: to get access to the pulpy beans inside without cutting or otherwise damaging the beans in the process. Save the beans!
Most Important Steps In Flavour Development
In Trinidad, many local folks call this ‘sweating’ the cocoa beans because it involves liquid runoff as the pulp disintegrates. This is not the sole purpose or indicator of fermenting. Fermentation is the first of several crucial steps that help to bring the natural flavours of the beans to life. It involves the work of billions of microbes, some of which act first on the sugars in the pulp to produce alcohol, others act on the pulp itself to break it down. Other microbes then step in to convert the alcohol to acetic acid and this is when things really begin to heat up – literally! All this activity helps to kill the bean and with its death, biochemical reactions inside the beans allow the formation of the compounds that will later be used as building blocks for the amazing aromas we know and love in chocolate.
Drying is a very critical aspect of the post-harvest processing of cocoa. It can make or break the quality of your beans after they have been beautifully fermented. Properly done drying is neither too slow nor too fast, and it serves to bring your biochemical reactions to a halt, and to remove the water and acetic acid trapped inside the bean. If drying is done too slowly, the bean will become mouldy and ruined. If done too quickly, the shell will shrink onto the bean, making it harder to remove. Too rapid drying will also trap the acetic acid in the bean and give you a very acidic taste in your chocolate unless you spend countless hours trying to get rid of it at the grinding stage.
This process helps to do two things: unleash the flavours of the well-fermented and dried beans, as well as makes it much easier to separate the shell from the inner part, the nibs. Roasting encourages reactions between the compounds (flavour precursors) created in the fermentation stage. These reactions help to reveal beautiful flavour notes like chocolatey, fruity, floral etc. in your chocolate. Without roasting, the flavour profile of the beans can be very flat or non-existent.
Before grinding your beans to make delish chocolate, it is best to remove all of the shells from your beans. This is done by a rough crush of your whole beans to give fragments of shell and your beans (nibs). These shell fragments must not remain during your grinding phase. They will make your chocolate become pasty thick and hard to work with….not to mention with a weird mouthfeel and taste.
Your nibs that are left after winnowing are now ready to be finely ground into a paste (cocoa liquor). This is usually done for a couple hours before sugar and other ingredients are added. Once all the ingredients are in, the grinding to get a smooth batch of chocolate can be at least 17 hours!