I stopped buying cacao beans from local sources due to following reasons:
1) Moist beans. Properly dried beans have lower weight value. Selling it with a bit higher moisture means more profit. Improperly dried beans take a longer roasting time.
2) Moldy beans. The beans stink. The bad aroma is still noticeable after roasting and grinding. Moist beans stored for a while are susceptible to molds attack.
3) Attacked by grain weevils. Bag of beans attacked by weevils probably has many rejects. Many beans with holes are eaten and have nothing but waste powder. Including them will result in a disgusting product.
4) Not fermented beans. Many nearby cacao planters never know how to ferment beans. Fermentation is a very important process. It takes two to seven days depending on desired flavor outcome. Longer fermentation for more subtle flavors. Local producers are washing the beans with sand to remove the pulp or just dried it immediately.
Removing the pulp is hard. Sucking the seeds to partially removed it, washing then drying is an easier alternative. Dried beans with some pulp intact also take longer roasting time. Pulps are easily removed after fermentation.
I got three cacao pods from uncle’s farm. Mature pods create a hollow sound when hit with point finger – immatures do not. When opened, the pulp is juicy sweet and the separation from pod is evident. Determining maturity by hearing a hollow sound needs practice though.
The seeds looked sweet and seemed inviting me but I refused. I wanted cacao beans fermentation experiment. I got an empty mineral water bottle. Cut out the top. Placed the cacao beans in it and covered with a sando bag.
to be continued…
I decided to stop the fermentation process after three days. This was for show purpose so three days were enough. The acidic aroma was evident and the pulp were shedding off the seeds.
I washed it thoroughly with three water changes.
And dried under the sun.
update as of March 2018
Bean washing after fermentation is discouraged.
Search for latest article for updated information.
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.