Chocolate producers worldwide get their cocoa beans mostly from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, but also from other countries in South Africa and South America.
The reason why there is such an abundance of chocolate produced worldwide is that the cacao tree produces pods all year long. These pods are of thee varieties, each with its own distinctive taste: Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. Among the three, Forastero is the most abundant. Criollo, on the other hand, is very rare, and Trinitario is a hybrid of the other two.
The harvesting of cocoa pods is usually done by hand, using machetes. Farmers need to break the pods in order to get to the cocoa beans. Afterward, the pulp and the beans are scraped from the inside of the pods and left to ferment in baskets for 2 to 8 days.
Fermentation is important. Without it, the beans inside are too bitter to enjoy. After this step, the contents are spread over a single layer to dry, usually under direct sunlight. Then, they are packed and shipped.
Now that you understand what the farmers do, it’s time to see what happens after the cocoa beans reach the producers.
When the beans enter the plant, they are roasted and then placed in a winnower. This tool removes the cocoa bean’s shell, leaving the nibs that are used to produce the chocolate. This then gets ground and turned into a rich, thick paste called chocolate liquor.
The chocolate liquor then undergoes another procedure to remove the cocoa butter, resulting in an end-product known as cocoa press-cake or cocoa powder. This is when the manufacturers determine what kind of chocolate they want to make.
If the cocoa powder is of poor quality, it will be mixed with other ingredients such as vegetable fats, sugar, and artificial flavorings. However, if they obtained high-quality cocoa powder, it will be added again to the chocolate liquor with ingredients such as milk, sugar, and vanilla before it is moved to a conching system.
Conching is the final step in giving the chocolate its ultimate texture and flavor. The pace, temperature, and duration of this process has a lot to do with the final taste of the chocolate. The process also helps eliminate any acidic tones.
The Belgian chocolate is then moved in a huge machine that pours chocolate into a mold that is then frozen. After that, the bars are packed and ready to be delivered to the customer.
Now that you know what it takes to make the delicious Belgian chocolate, you will come to truly appreciate it when you go to our store in Brussels or buy some from our website. Some Belgian chocolates are inexpensive and some are costly. It all comes down to what kind of cocoa tree was used to obtain the beans and the manufacturing process.
Save the chocolate! The cocoa tree is sensitive to its surroundings. It is most likely to grow in the shades made by the rainforest’s canopy. For this reason, chocolate lovers must unite in order to save the rainforests where cocoa is most likely to survive!