There’s a lot of hype about the different types of cacao beans (similar to the same sort of hype in the coffee biz). Bean type has a significant impact on taste for sure, but perhaps the most important part in developing flavour is actually in the post-harvest fermentation process.
(Ever noticed that some of the most delicious and simultaneously healthy food stuffs are naturally fermented? Kombucha, kimchi, miso, kefir yoghurt… I digress).
The cacao beans are harvested, removed from the colourful pod and then are naturally fermented. The fermentation of the beans is critical as it triggers the chemical changes that develop the unique chocolatey aroma & flavour that we know and love. Without fermentation cacao can be quite bitter and astringent.
The fermentation process takes approx 5-7 days (depending on the process adopted by the artisan, the environment and the particular batch). It’s a labour intensive process, a lot of love & care is required at this stage to ensure that the beans ferment just right. Just by way of comparison, I tried to make sauerkraut last year and even tending to my small jar was pretty labour intensive – daily pressing to ensure the cabbage is submerged under the brine just right, getting the seasonings just so… let’s just say I’ve decided to support local sauerkraut producers from now on.
Some big companies don’t even both with fermentation. For them, profit margins are the key driver and the fermentation process is expensive, so they mask the missing flavour profile by subjecting the cacao to heavy roasting and then add a whole bunch of artificial preservatives, vegetable oils, flavours and sugar.
Cheap and nasty isn’t our thing. We’ve been super selective and only partnered with farmers who grow and process their cacao to the highest quality – this includes having a legit and well managed fermentation process. It’s such a different buzz connecting to a food that’s been crafted as a labour of love as opposed to a commodity produced to make shareholders money.
Thanks again to Ubud Raw for the gorgeous picture. These guys are fermentation experts and we are so happy to partner with them.