How is chocolate made?

The chocolate production process consists of different steps. Below you can discover how chocolate is made step by step.

Harvesting cocoa beans

Africa, South-East Asia, Central and South America are the regions were most cocoa is cultivated. There are three major types of cocoa beans: the Criollo, the Forastero and the Trinitario (a hybrid between Criollo and Forastero). The Forastero is the strongest variety and also the most interesting in commercial terms. 

The fruits are ripe after four to eight months, and are then manually picked. This is done to avoid that buttons and blossoms are damaged. Then the fruits are chopped open one by one.

Fermentation and drying

The fruits that were chopped open are left to ferment for five to seven days. During the process the pulp around the beans disappears and the first chocolate flavours are formed. 

After that the cocoa beans are dried in the sun or with special machines. They now lose more than half their weight in moisture. The result is raw cocoa. It is subjected to strict quality controls, packaged in bales and and prepared for shipment worldwide.

Roasting, breaking and grinding the cocoa beans

The cocoa beans are sorted according to quality and size and then cleaned. Then they are roasted at a temperature of 120°C. Thanks to this process that the cocoa beans get their typical chocolate flavour.

The roasted beans are broken into small pieces of 2 to 3 mm. In this form they are sometimes referred to as ‘nibs’. The shell around it is blown away. 

Finally, the nibs are finely ground in special mills until a chocolate brown, fluid mass is obtained. This cocoa mass contains more than 50% cocoa butter.

Mixing the ingredients

Depending on the type of chocolate you want to manufacture, the following ingredients are mixed:

  • Dark chocolate: cocoa mass, cocoa butter & sugar.
  • Milk chocolate: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar & milk powder.
  • White chocolate: cocoa butter, sugar & milk powder.

Rolling and kneading in kettles

The mixture is crushed to microscopically small particles in heavy machines. This gives the chocolate its typical, smooth texture.

The chocolate mass is subsequently kneaded at high temperatures in large kettles. Several chemical processes take place which give the chocolate its refined taste.

The finishing

The last step in the production process of chocolate is obviously the finishing

After the kneading, the chocolate is ready to be poured into moulds and be processed into different chocolate varieties like bars, chocolates, etc.