Cacao Beans Handling and Storage

Storage is different from the two words proper storage. The latter involves preservation of quality. It is a race among beans and its enemies namely moisture, molds, weevils and other unremovable foreign objects like liquid chemicals and odorants. Here is a true story. I packed the beans inside PE bag and put the bag inside the sack. After awhile. A male dog came and all of a sudden peed on sack. I angrily chased the dog away and transfer the beans to another container. The PE bag I put on was a life saver. The bean would’ve been a goner.

Why do wee need a proper bean storage? If the farmer is also a cocoa product manufacturer, then, he need to worry less. He can easily roast and further process it as soon as the harvested beans are ready. This is rarely the case. The beans often needs travel to other town, other province, other region and sometimes another country to reach its rightful processors. Whosalers (byaheros) want to buy in bulk to take the most out of transportation cost and perhaps reduce the buying price. Farmers must wait until the buyer come. Travel from one area to another is not instant. It takes from days to several months. The processors never always process the beans immediately upon arrival. The beans should be handled and stored properly between properly dried stage up to the time the manufacturer decides to finally run it on production line.

Do’s and Don’ts. It is more practical to list them at once than separately.

Proper storage should start with properly dried and high quality beans free from molds and weevils. Low quality bean will still be of low quality or even lower after proper handling and storage. As much as possible do not include any defects such as flat, broken, stones, sticks and other foreign objects. Dear farmers! Manufacturer are paying premium price for high quality beans. Do strive for the best and you’ll earn what you deserve.

Dried beans moisture content should be between 7 to 8 %. Too brittle below 7. High tendency of breakage on handling and transport. We don’t want it to happen as roasting requires whole beans. Mold begin to grow above 8%, ruining flavors.

If possible, pack beans in layer of PE bag and sack. It protects from water, moisture, chemical and odorant absorption. Vacuum packaging is more desirable. The practice in local scene is packing in recycled rice or feed sack and that’s it, ready for storage and transportation. Recycled sack is okay as long as it is clean. However, never use any recycled fertilizer sack. Don’t make excuse of washing it thoroughly before re-use.

Avoid any force that might cause bean breakage. Brokens goes straight to trash bin right before roasting. Do not drop sacks. Do not step on it. Do not over stack. Sorry! I never know the maximum stacking height. Steel frames are highly suggested to manage stacking problems.

What I am doing?

The best place in our house to store beans is under stairs. From what I have observed, the temperature and humidity in that place is somewhat stable that I never experience any moldy and weevil infested beans there. Even if the packaging is a mere plain sack.

So there is one more thing I need to add. Avoid any place with fluctuating temperature and humidity.

export quality cacao beans

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.

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