The Process of Making Chocolate

Making chocolate involves a long process, from the cacao tree to the hands of the farmers to the factory to the hands of the master chocolate maker.

From Nature to the Factory

Chocolate comes from processed cacao beans, harvested from the cacao tree. Cacao trees only grow in tropical climates, 10 to 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The first cacao trees grew in the Amazon basins, north of Brazil. Today it is grown and cultivated in many tropical countries such as Ghana, Brazil, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast, which are also four of the largest cacao growers in the world. Cacao trees strive in warm and humid weather with little or no wind. They like loose rich soil and shaded sunlight, usually growing under the shade of taller trees such as coconut, banana, and rubber trees. Cacao trees are harvested only twice a year. The pods, where the seeds or the beans can be harvested, take five to six months to develop. The pods turn to orange or red from a green or yellow color once they are ripe and ready for picking. To harvest the pods, farmers use a machete to cut them off the tree. This is why cacao trees are trimmed to only about twenty feet, because they can shoot up as high as sixty feet. After picking, the cacao beans or seeds are left to ferment for several days, depending on the types of cacao variety. After fermentation, the seeds are wrinkled and darker in color and lose their overly bitter taste. They are the dried under the sun for another several days and then packed in sacks and shipped into factories. In the factory, the beans are cleaned and sorted and roasted at 450 to 350 degrees for thirty minutes up to two hours. Inside large revolving drums.

Making Chocolate Liquor

After roasting, the cacao beans’ outer shell are removed, the process of which is called winnowing. The separated shells are sold as animal feeds and the inner nib is crushed and heated until it melts into cocoa butter and then ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor. Liquor in this case does not mean it contains any alcohol but simply is in liquid form. This chocolate liquor forms the base of different types of chocolates, including dark, white, and milk chocolate. The concentration of the chocolate liquor will determine the richness of the chocolate’s taste.

Different Processes for Different Types of Chocolate

There are also different processes for making different kinds of chocolate. Dutch-processed cocoa requires an alkali treatment. Without an alkali treatment, the liquor becomes cocoa powder and can be used for baking. To make cocoa powder, 10 to 25 percent of the cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa liquor using a large press machine. This produces a cakey form, which is then ground and sifted using silk, nylon, or wire mesh. Dark chocolate is made by combining chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla and sugar. Milk chocolate is also a combination of those ingredients but has less cocoa liquor and milk is added in the mixture. Diabetic chocolate can be processed like milk or dark chocolate but contains no sugar, and instead make use of sugar alternatives.

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About The Author, Chris Alleny
Chris Alleny writes about various subjects including food. For more information on fine homemade gourmet chocolates visit