12 Apr 2018
Imagine that you and 3 friends harvested 4000 kg of grapes from the same field and you are asked to make a good wine out of it. Each of you get 1000 kg and need to ferment a quarter of the grapes, the basis of your wine. Do you think all of you will produce the same quality?
And do you think that your final wine will be the best possible wine that you could have made together?
This is what happens in cocoa. Beans from the same region but fermented in different, sometimes even bad circumstances, are blended to become chocolate.
It will be good chocolate of course. But to obtain the best possible tasting chocolate, the fermentation should be done by the one that is best in class.
You give the 4 tons of grapes to your friend that knows fermentation best and as a team you will end up with the best possible wine you could make.
That idea is used in our Post Harvest Centres. Cocoa farmers who are trained on delivering a certain quality, bring fresh cocoa pods or beans to the centre and leave the fermentation and drying process to Puratos.
They receive the same amount of money for their fresh beans as for their dried beans, giving them more time to spend on other activities.
A purchase and supply manager organizes the bean collection and is in charge of logistics. He or she is our contact with the cocoa farmers that apply Cacao-Trace techniques on the field.
The quality of the final chocolate starts with the raw materials, this is why we put a lot of care in this step. In the reception area, we collect fresh beans, check the quality parameters and scale them.
When approved, the cocoa farmer receives a receipt which allows him to collect his quality premium.
The beans are then transferred to the fermentation station where they ferment up to 6 days.
A skilled fermenter and quality checker control the temperature, add air and adapt the process depending on the specific flavour needs.
An R&D expert on site reviews and improves the entire set-up continuously and invests time in fermentation research.
In the office area, a lab is set up where the team keeps track of all the quality present in the warehouse.
After the fermentation is done, the beans are transferred to the drying zone until they are ready to be sorted and bagged.
After one last quality check, they are moved to the warehouse, ready to be shipped overseas and become delicious chocolate.
Every Cacao-Trace Post-Harvest Centre follows a specific operating procedure for the cocoa beans and the employees are trained to apply the strategy.
A site manager is responsible for the organization of the centre and follow-up of the process.
The practical set-up of a centre however, depends on the region where the centre is operating and can be different in Asia, Africa and Latin America.