Spent many years roasting cacao bean on pan. Years without success on uniformity. I can safely say every roast was unique without any chance of repeat. A pan over lpg flame and constantly stirred by manually with large spoon. At least I can make the flame strength constant. I also experience the woes of wood fire stove. The flame was simply too unpredictable. Constant stirring? No chance. I can make a rhythm for about a minute to five. That’s all. Uncomfortable heat, ringing phone, person questioning and boredom always get in the way. Mechanical stirring is being adapted by few but implementing it never once crossed my mind.
I mustered enough guts and shifted to oven roasting. Bought myself a low cost locally fabricated version. Switched to fermented beans. Then used about one full jute sack, 63 kg estimated, before getting the roast that suited my senses. That’s a lot, I guessed. But nothing compared to amount I used with pan roasting. Three years flew like a breeze and never had any failed roast. Now the question is. Am I an expert cocoa bean roaster?
The answer is yes and no. I am an expert when if comes to the very specific equipment at my possession. I need time and test batches to adjust for every equipment I handle. I did a demo in Marinduque once. The first result was a total failure because of a defective thermostat. It was burnt. Second and consecutive trials were okay.
I did a same demo in a different place. Again, using a different roasting equipment. First trial was success because I monitored it closely. Consecutive trials were successful with minimal supervision.
Then. We fabricated our very own drum roaster. It was a huge gamble because it was our first and I had no experience on drum roasting before. We built it based on theory and observations gathered from other working roasters. It is two-in-one. Adjusting my skill to use the machine and making modifications on roaster to make it more efficient. First run was successful. Second was a bit of failure. Third and consecutive were okay.
Maybe the next step should be modifications.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.