The transformation of the fresh cacao bean into a finished chocolate is an intriguing collaboration between the tremendous potential of the natural world and human ingenuity at finding nourishment and pleasure in the most unpromising materials. Right out of the pod, the bean is astringent, bitter, and essentially aroma-less. Cacao farmers and chocolate manufacturers develop its potential in several distinct processing steps:
- Farmers ferment the mass of beans and pulp in order to generate the precursors to chocolate flavor.
- Manufacturers roast the fermented beans to transform flavor precursors into flavors.
- Manufacturers grind the beans, add sugar, and then physically work the mixture to refine its flavor and create a silken texture.