1 Feb 2021
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 in the surrounding of 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, preferably profressional one.
Technical support and coaching, delivered on the farms and in Cacao-Trace Post-Harvest Centers, help cocoa farmers deliver high quality 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.
While in many fermented food processes like sourdough bread, beer and yoghurt, the fermentation process is strictly controlled, traditionally in chocolate, cocoa beans of different quality (non-fermented, partially fermented or well fermented), are bulk-blended to get chocolate.
This jeopardises the quality and taste of the chocolate obtained as too much variation can result in a huge impact on the flavour of the chocolate.
This is where Cacao-Trace makes a differences. 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 these processes are 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 mastered by our fermentation experts to result into superior tasting chocolates as can state the following awards:
The Post-Harvest Center is also the 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. We then build a Post-Harvest Center in the community, which is a considerable investment of several hundred thousand euros.
Additionally we intensively train the farmers to help them achieve the Cacao-Trace quality standards and commit to source only from this community, while paying in counterpart a quality premium and a chocolate bonus that both increase farmer revenue.
We believe this is the only way to address the cocoa chain issues: Creating value through superior tasting chocolates and sharing the so-created value among the whole cocoa/chocolate chain, and especially cocoa farmers, who suffer from imbalance in profit share.
Thanks to this approach, the Cacao-Trace farmers recognize us as a reliable and long term partner, living up to our commitments.