How is cocoa pods processed?

cocoa pod splitting

Cocoa beans need to go through a series of processing steps from maturity to finished product. Fresh cocoa pods need to go through a cocoa pod splitter to splitting and dehydration. Then the cocoa beans can be transported to the cocoa beans processing plant for processing. So how are fresh cocoa pods processed?

Cocoa pod picking

It takes 3 to 5 years from the planting to the mature cacao pods. Cacao trees tend to grow in tropical areas where the heat is redundant, so picking often lasts for several months. Because cocoa is an open-pollinated plant, even in the same cocoa forest, it may appear different varieties of cocoa pods. The unripe cocoa pods’ color is mostly green, red, or purple. The color of mature cocoa pods tends to be yellow or orange. Cocoa pods often grow on the cocoa tree trunk, so they can be picked using a fruit picker. It is estimated that a skilled worker can harvest 650 cocoa pods every day.

cocoa pods
cocoa pods

Cocoa pod processing

Depending on the size of the customer’s farm, the processing methods for fresh cocoa pods’ processing methods are different. Small farms often take out cocoa beans by manually cutting cocoa pods. Large farms or cocoa bean processing plants will use cocoa pod splitter machine for mass processing. After processing cocoa pods by a splitting machine, it is usually necessary to use a classifier to classify the cocoa pods. It will open separate the cocoa pods from the cocoa beans and grade it.

cocoa beans structure
cocoa beans structure

The processed cocoa beans are divided into pulp and cocoa seeds. Cocoa beans need to be dried before further processing. This is because even if the cocoa pulp is separated from the cocoa beans, the cocoa beans still have some sticky substance attached to their appearance. The sticky pulp will liquefy during fermentation after sun-dried or dehydration. After fermentation, the original bitterness is improved, and in the process, cocoa beans’ color changes to dark brown.

cracked cocoa beans
cracked cocoa beans

After cracking by the cocoa pod cracker machine and drying, these cocoa beans can be transported to a food processing plant for further processing. The final product can form into cocoa powder, cocoa butter, chocolate, etc.

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