INNOVATION IN PROCESSING COCOA INTO CHOCOLATE
For years, farmers have been selling cocoa as commodity where the price is set in a distant area of the world removed far away from the cocoa farmers. The cocoa farmers had no control or means to grow their income substantially. In 2007, few chocolate makers in America changed it forever. They looked at the superfood quality of the cocoa and the sugar content of the candy chocolate where the cocoa mass is used in a negligible quantity. They started making chocolate with just cocoa beans and less sugar (35% or less compared to 80% sugar in candy chocolate) with no additives or chemicals. They had the knowledge to make chocolate but had to be “McGuyvers” to convert the existing equipment to suit their needs. More chocolatemakers wanted to follow their footprints but they were not McGuyvers. CocoaTown was founded in 2008 to help chocolatemakers with the equipment they need for different steps of chocolate production. Innovation and continuous research has helped CocoaTown to provide a complete solution to the chocolatemakers to give them the equipment and education to make (cocoa) bean to (chocolate) bar as it is commonly called. Right now CocoaTown has three lines of packages – one for Exploring and experimenting, one for Exhibiting and showcasing the process and one for Expanding – growing the business to commercial level. Since the complete Explorer line costs only $4000 (F.O.B. Atlanta for a set of Roaster, Cooling Tray, Cracker, Winnower, mini Pregrinder, Melanger with all the accessories), now even farmers in more than 100 countries can make their own chocolate.
There is a saying that the coffee farmers in many parts of the world have not tasted coffee because of the cost involved in processing coffee beans into drinking coffee. Similarly the cocoa farmers in the past could not afford chocolate due to the cost of processing. CocoaTown has created paradigm shift by enabling the cocoa farmers to make their own chocolate. One can argue that not all cocoa farmers are entrepreneurs or Chocopreneurs as we call them. Even if every farmer is not making chocolate, having a set of machines available for the chocolate processing helps them to understand why the proper fermentation and drying is important to increase the quality of the beans and to get hgher price for their beans. Commodity price for most of the cocoa beans are about $1 per kilo whereas chocolatemakers pay upto $3 / KG for most of the cocoa beans and $10 for Madagascar beans. This doubles or triples the farmers’ income with minimum effort. If the cocoa farmers are inclined to be chocopreneurs, they get about $ 50 -$100 per Kg of chocolate depending on their geographical location and other factors. This increases their income exponentially and in addition employs their neighbors in support activities and helps the whole community.
Innovation has always been the mantra for CocoaTown. CocoaTown has collaborated with universities and has published papers on various aspects of chocolatemaking. All CocoaTown equipment are the result of “thinking outside the box” and are patented technology.
CocoaT Roaster uses drum roaster for uniform roasting and uses conduction, convection, radiation heats for heating efficiency. The cooling tray collects and cools the roasted beans in 5 minutes.
CocoaT Cracker uses patented technology to crack the beans into bigger nibs with less fines and also peels the skin away from the nibs for easier separation in the winnower. Before CocoaT Cracker, people were using cracking machines developed for beer industry. They cracked the beans into smaller pieces which became a challenge to separate the husk and nibs in the winnower. Too much husk in the nibs made the chocolate inferior quality as the husk does not grind well. Some customers had to sieve the chocolate liquor to remove the unground husk. Also too many fine nibs went with husk which meant chocolate makers lost money.
In the same way winnowing has been a challenge for chocolatemakers. Since there is a very little weight difference between the cocoa nib and cocoa husk, separating them is harder. With our patented winnowers and cracker, the separation is better. In the CocoaT winnower or InnoWinno Winnower, the nibs have less than .005% husk whereas FDA allows 1.5% of husk. This has been a blessing for chocolatemakers as they save lot of money (less nibs are wasted with husk) and produce better quality chocolate (less or almost nil husk with nibs). Optional Bean transfer attachment for the InnoWinno Winnower also makes it easy to transport the beans from the sack on the ground to the cracker on the winnower. Thus it saves labor charges and liability charges (people had to climb ladders and fill the hoppers with beans in many of the other winnowers in the market.
Innovation in bean to bar has also helped the gourmet food industries such as nut butters, nut milks, hummus and more as many of the bean to bar equipment can also be used for making these gourmet foods and more.
Whether one is a chocolatemaker or a hobbyist / chocoholic trying to make chocolate, they can use these machines. In addition, they can also use the melanger to grind masa, hummus, nut pastes, Nutella kind spreads, and lot more.
Cocoatown | March 19 2018 | Milling and Grain | Original article