Chocolate originates from the bean (or seed) of a tree that grows in
tropical areas of the world. This tree is called a Cacao
tree and is predominately found in countries within 10-20
degrees latitude of the equator. The trees need warm, humid weather
and loose, rich soil. They like shaded sunlight. Since cacao
trees prefer shade, banana trees, rubber trees or coconut
palms are often planted beside the cacao tree in the
The Cacao tree forms large seed pods. Inside the pods
are the beans (or seeds) which eventually become the basis for
chocolate. It takes 5-6 months for the cacao
pods to develop. The trees are generally harvested twice a
year, but can be harvested any time.
To harvest, the pods are first cut off from the tree with a machete.
Each pod is opened and the beans are separated from the fibers of the
pod. These beans are then laid on a flat surface, covered with banana
leaves and allowed to ferment. As the seeds ferment they go from a
light off-white color to a purplish color and finally turn dark brown.
During this process they also become wrinkled. The fermentation
process takes 2-3 days.
Once fermentation is complete, these whole cacao beans are
dried to a moisture content of approximately 1%. The drying
of the bean greatly retards fermentation and lowers the microbial
count. Once dried, these beans are ready for shipment as whole beans
unless they undergo further processing to create cacao
nibs, or cacao powder and cacao
Whole beans require pealing by the consumer before they can be eaten.
The outside "hull" is similar to the shell of a peanut and can easily
How Cacao Nibs are Made:
To create cacao nibs, the whole, dried beans are
placed into a machine that runs a "roller" across them. This breaks
up the bean and cracks the thin shell. The chaff is then removed
leaving only the broken cacao bean, which is called a
nib. These delicious cacao nibs do
not contain any dairy, sugar, or additives. They are simply the raw,
broken cacao bean that has had the outer shell removed. Many people
use these nibs in smoothies. They can, also, be added to bars,
cookies, yogurt, granola and trail mixes for a natural chocolate
crunch. Some people use them like chocolate chips to decorate
How Our Cacao Powder and Cacao Butter are Made:
Once the cacao nib has been produced, if
cacao powder and cacao butter are
desired, the nibs are then placed into a press where the oil is gently
pressed out, separating the fiber, water
soluble antioxidants, minerals and vitamins
from the cacao butter which also tastes like
chocolate, though not so strongly. Lastly, this "pressed cake," which
contains mostly fiber and nutrients, is carefully broken up into a
tiny particles and that becomes cacao powder.
The separated oil is not refined or processed any further. It is
poured into a lined box and allowed to set up into a solid. This oil
is sold as raw cacao butter. The original
cacao bean is about 1/2 oil/butter and half fiber/nutrients
so for every pound of cacao powder that is produced a
pound of raw cacao butter is also produced.
None of our cacao products have been roasted or
alkalinized (a process that uses Sodium Hydroxide to enhance the
chocolate flavor). Our raw cacao powder boasts of an
ORAC score of 1377 μmole TE/gram (137,700 μmole
TE/100gram)! It is wonderful to find a cacao powder
that has minimal processing and a maximum amount of natural goodness.