Today, on World Chocolate Day, let's look at the cocoa beans that make chocolate, and the people who harvest those cocoa beans.
Check out the story of ten-year-old Halima, from Côte d’Ivoire, who finally gets a chance to go to school.
What happens after the cocoa is harvested?
Ripe cocoa (or cacao) pods are harvested by farmers twice a year, and opened with a machete to scoop out the white pulp which contains cocoa beans. The pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers, where the pulp is allowed to ferment. After fermentation, the next step in the process is to dry the beans. This is usually done by spreading them out into a single layer in the sun. Most beans are transferred into sacks and transported around the world after drying. The next step in the process is roasting. This is done by the chocolate maker rather than the farmer.The cocoa nibs are ground with stone rollers until they become a paste known as cocoa mass. Cocoa butter can be extracted from the cocoa mass with a hydraulic press. This is useful because most chocolate makers often use extra cocoa butter to give their chocolate a smoother, glossier texture. Traditionally, the cocoa mass is be transferred to a separate machine called a conch, where it is further refined.It’s during this process that sugar, milk powder (for milk chocolate) and other flavourings are added to the chocolate. Chocolate is then tempered and moulded.
When you next enjoy a chocolate treat, remember to think of the farmers who harvested the beans and choose fair trade chocolate where possible.