chocolate care guide

Facts about Chocolate

It’s not surprising that chocolate is the world’s most craved food.

Theobroma cacao, the cocoa tree’s scientific name, literally means ‘food of the gods’.

But what does it take to transform a cocoa bean into delectable chocolate?

Explore the Journey from Bean to Bliss with Purdys Chocolatier

It takes five years for a cocoa tree to mature and bear fruit—cocoa pods. Each pod is similar in size to a football, and contains up to 50 cocoa beans.

Cocoa trees grow most successfully in the “Chocolate Belt”, the region that’s 10°N and 10°S of the Equator where the climate is warm, humid and heavy on rainfall.

Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia are the world’s largest cocoa producers. There’s an advantage to knowing where your cocoa comes from: Like wine, chocolate reflects the distinct flavour notes and intensities of the region from which it originates.

Discover Purdys’ Single Origin Chocolates, which celebrate the individual flavours of specific regions in the Chocolate Belt.

Types of Cocoa Beans

A single kilogram of chocolate takes 300-600 cocoa beans to make, depending on the type of bean and the desired type of chocolate: white, milk or dark.

There are three main varieties of cocoa species used in chocolate-making, each of which lends a particular flavour profile to the chocolate.

Forastero is the main bulk bean, with 90% used in the confectionary industry. Originally from the Amazon region, Forastero beans have a classic chocolate flavour.

Criollo beans, grown mainly in Central and South America, have a fruity, complex flavour. This particular type of cocoa tree is rare, as it tends to be more susceptible to disease.

Trinitario, a hybrid of Forastero and Criollo, is a hardy cocoa tree originally from Trinidad. Grown in many regions of the Chocolate Belt, Trinitario beans range in flavour from spicy to earthy to fruity to highly acidic.

The Chocolate-Making Process

Transforming cocoa into chocolate is a complex process with quite a few steps, each shaping the texture and flavour of the cocoa bean.

Fermentation is the initial step through which the sugar and acids found in cocoa beans are naturally broken down. This typically takes several days, after which the beans are sun-dried for a couple more days.

Roasting, as with coffee, can be delicate, medium or dark. Master Roasters decide on roasting time (10-25 minutes) and temperature (240-270°F) to obtain the desired final flavour profile.

Cracking & Winnowing separates the cocoa nibs from the hard outer shells.

Refining grinds down the cocoa nibs into the desired size. The heat from the process renders the nibs into liquid form, which is then further separated into cocoa liquor and cocoa butter—the two main ingredients in chocolate.

Conching is the final stage of the chocolate-making process, and each chocolate maker has their own proprietary way of blending the cocoa liquor, butter, sugar and milk ingredients together.

Cocoa Content in Chocolate

Cocoa percentage on a label refers to the total percentage of ingredients by weight that come from the cocoa bean. Generally, a higher percentage of cocoa in chocolate means a more intense, less sweet flavour.

Crave decadent dark chocolate? Try Purdys Chocolatier’s 70% dark chocolates.