The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations in Central America. 'Theobroma Cacao', meaning 'Food of the Gods', was prized for centuries.
The Chocolate Making Process
a) Harvesting - Farmer
The chocolate making process process begins with harvesting; ripe cocoa pods are normally harvested twice a year and the techniques used, geography, soil type and climatic conditions directly impacts the beans and the chocolate’s flavour profile.
b) Fermenting - Farmer
During the fermenting process the pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers, where the pulp is allowed to ferment for five to seven days. This is the first stage in developing the flavour of the chocolate.
c) Drying - Farmer
After fermentation, the beans are dried by spreading out in the sun, after which the beans are packed into into sacks and transported around the world.
d) Roasting - Chocolate Maker
The process and equipment used to roast the beans vary considerably from chocolate maker to chocolate maker.
e) Cracking & Winnowing - Chocolate Maker
The roasted cocoa beans are then cracked open and the shell is removed in a process called winnowing. This leaves behind pure cocoa beans, known as "nibs".
f) Grinding and Conching - Chocolate Maker
The cocoa nibs are ground with stone rollers to result in cocoa mass. This pure, unrefined form of chocolate contains both cocoa solids (the chocolatey part) and cocoa butter (the natural fat present in the bean); both are used in Artisan and Bean to Bar chocolates.
Tempering ensures great chocolate have a shiny finish and a good “snap” – that clean clicking sound when you break a piece off. Tempering is a quality control process of raising and lowering the temperature of the chocolate. tempering can be done by hand or by tempering machines.
The final step in the chocolate making process is where artisan and specialist chocolate makers pour the melted chocolate by hand into bar-shaped moulds and wrap them individually for sale to the public.
Image from Chocolate Noise