3 Sep 2020
Fermentation is a natural process in which micro-organisms transform a food component, changing its structure and taste.
The most famous fermented food consumed worldwide, include sourdough bread, wine, yoghurt, beer and, chocolate.
In the case of chocolate, fermentation unleashes the flavour potentials of the cocoa beans. In every cocoa region, different micro-organisms occur inside the cocoa beans, which is the reason why we are blessed with such a rich variety of chocolate flavour profiles.
To unveil the natural flavours of the cocoa beans at their fullest potential, the fermentation process is crucial. This requires knowledge, practice and a minimum level of equipment.
Technical support and coaching, delivered on the farms and in Cacao-Trace Post-Harvest Centers, help cocoa farmers increase the quality of their beans.
The better the quality, the better the impact on the final taste. Cacao-Trace experts make sure to analyze and select only the cocoa beans, that meet the Cacao-Trace quality standards.
In many cocoa regions, farmers ferment themselves, without having access to the right tools or knowledge.
Traditionally in chocolate, those cocoa beans of different quality (non-fermented, partially fermented or well fermented), are bulk-blended to get chocolate of only basic quality and taste.
Too much variation has a huge impact on the flavour of the chocolate. While in other fermented food processes like sourdough bread, beer and yoghurt; this fermentation step is strictly controlled.
This is where Cacao-Trace takes a different approach. Our beans are fermented in Post-Harvest Centers under the supervision of highly trained experts who have set high standards and guidelines for the fermentation process.
Years of research have led us to redefine the criteria for fermenting our beans:
As this process is key in chocolate taste development, this makes the difference between an average and a superior quality chocolate.
The Post-Harvest Center is the central place where Cacao-Trace farmers and Cacao-Trace experts meet to co-create value. Farmers bring their high quality beans that will be fermented by experts to result into superior tasting chocolate as can state the following awards:
The Post-Harvest Center is also a strong symbol of our high commitment towards both farmers and customers.
Once we select a cocoa farmer community to join the Cacao-Trace programme, we are committed to build a long term relationship with them. Not only do we build a post-harvest center in the community (which is a considerable investment of several hundred thousand euros), we also intensively train the farmers to help them achieve the Cacao-Trace quality standards. We are the only program to commit to source only from this community; while paying in counterpart a quality premium and a chocolate bonus that increases the farmer's revenue.
We believe this is the only way to address the cocoa chain issues: Creating superior tasting chocolate and sharing its value among the whole cocoa/chocolate chain.
Thanks to this approach, the Cacao-Trace farmers recognize us as a reliable and long term partner; living up to our commitments.
The Post-Harvest Centers' network is a guarantee for creating sustainable and superior tasting chocolate.
But do not take our word for it, taste out chocolates and get in touch to (virtually) visit one of our Post-Harvest Centers in our Cacao-Trace sourcing countries.