Bean to… Bits!

Now that you understand all about fair trade and how we source our Cocoa Beans at Black Mountain Chocolate Factory, it’s time to explore what happens to the beans when they arrive here in Winston-Salem!  

Welcome to the Roasting Room! 

After we receive the cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic in 100 lb canvas bags, our first step in chocolate making is cleaning the beans. And when we say cleaning, we don’t mean washing with soap and water. We mean removing anything that is not a cocoa bean. Beans are an agricultural commodity processed in a developing country, shoveled into bags, and sold by weight. As you might imagine, sometimes the bags contain objects other than beans.

Here are some examples of items we have removed from the raw cocoa beans during our sorting process!  Over the years, we’ve cleaned plastic, feathers, screws, and numerous other non-chocolate items from our beans. But when we’re done with this process, we can truly say that we have inspected every single bean that goes into your chocolate.

After our beans are sorted, and we are sure that only the best quality cocoa beans remain, the next step is to roast the beans. Roasting happens in the big black machine in the corner that looks a bit like Thomas the Tank Engine. Seventy-five pounds of beans are hoisted up

into the silver funnel on top of the roaster. When the roaster is heated, the beans drop into the drum and spin around as hot air is pulled through them. Careful skill is required to make sure that the beans are properly cooked but not burnt. The time and temperature of roasting are two of BMC‘s biggest secrets to extract in the maximum flavor from each cocoa bean.

Once our cocoa beans are roasted and cooled, the dry husk on the outside of each bean must be removed, sort of like a peanut that has a shell that must be removed before eating. This is done with the winnowing machine that’s normally stored off in the far-left corner of the Roasting Room. The winnowing machine crushes the beans and then uses a vacuum to suction away the light papery husks while allowing the heavier nibs pieces fall through into our collection container. 

After the winnowing process, we are left with Roasted Cocoa Nibs. The nibs are about the size of peppercorns, and are pure, roasted cocoa.  While the vast majority of our nibs continue on into the chocolate-making process, we do sell our Cocoa Nibs as a product on their own.  These crunchy bits are pure cocoa, without sugar, and are considered to be a superfood!  They taste great sprinkled over yogurt or ice cream, can be a great inclusion in smoothies, a healthy snack, and also lend crunch and cocoa punch as inclusions in baked products, such as Black Mountain Chocolate’s famous Cocoa Nib Brownies!  

Now that we have roasted cocoa nibs, it’s time to make the chocolate!  Our third tour stop takes us to the Black Mountain Chocolate Cold Room.

Watch Kevin with Epic Gardening open and guide us through a cocoa pod!  

Aviva Goldfarb guides you through a series of recipes using Cocoa Nibs!  

ok… but what is the difference between CocOA and CacAO?  MaretaiOrganics explains the difference!  

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