Process 3: What is ferment 1?

Hello my fellow chocolate lovers,

I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.

Today I would like to continue from where we left off last time: “how does cacao become chocolate?”


Last time we discussed about how the cacao fruits grow on trees.


Now, how is chocolate made from cacao? Actually, they are made from the beans inside the fruit.


Cacao fruits, also known as cacao pods, contains beans that are covered by the fruit’s white, fluffy pulp. The bean with purplish contents shown below is the cacao bean.

How many beans do you think are inside one pod?

There are approximately 30~40 beans.

Now how many bars of dark chocolate do you think can be made from one cacao pod?

Surprisingly, it’s not even enough to make one chocolate bar!


Two cacao pods are just about enough to make one chocolate bar.

Two cacao pods, that are about the size of a rugby ball, to make one chocolate bar...

Making chocolate is hard work for sure...


On top of that, simply extracting the cacao beans from its pulp isn’t enough.

In order to drink a delicious cup of coffee, you will need to extract the beans out of the coffee fruit, dry them, and roast the bean. However, it is not so simple when it comes to cacao beans.

The most important step in the process of making chocolate is fermentation.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “fermentation”?

This “ferment” is the same process used to make wine, beer, bread, cheese, yogurt, pickles, and many others.

Yes! Chocolate is a fermented food product as well.

How then are the cacao beans fermented?

As I explained earlier, cacao beans are covered in cacao pulp. It’s these white pulp that play an important role during fermentation.


The pulp of the cacao fruit is thick and creamy and has a wonderful flavour of tropical fruits, similar to that of passionfruit and lychee.

The secret to the sweetness of this fruit is its rich sugar content.

Yeasts and microbes use this sugar as a source of nutrient to ferment the cacao beans.


During this fermentation process the chocolate’s signature tang and smell is created.

Non-fermented cacao beans, on the other hand, will be weak scented and simply bitter.

Let’s call it a day for now, now that I’ve had the chance to talk about how important fermentation is for chocolate.


Next time, I would like to post some facts about fermentation in more detail.

With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,

Takanori Chiwata

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