Chocolate 101


Harvesting takes place at intervals of  less than 21 days in order to reduce  the amount of overripe pods with  germinated beans. After removing the  pods from the trees, they are placed in  piles until they are split open.
Selection of Pods
Harvesting takes place at intervals of less than 21 days in order to reduce the amount of overripe pods with germinated beans. After removing the pods from the trees, they are placed in piles until they are split open.
Opening the pods
With precise blows from a short knife  called “bodogo”, the pods are carefully  split open ensuring that the beans are  not damaged. Then the pulp covered  cacao seeds are manually scooped  out. They are placed between layers of  banana leaves to protect them against  contact with the soil or rain until they  are transported to a fermentary. At  this stage, a new selection is made  and infected and germinated pods are  discarded.
The exuberance of flavors emerges 
during fermentation. The “soft cocoa” a mixture of pulp and beans is put into wooden boxes to ferment for 5 to 7 days. In the making of Q chocolate, the boxes are round, different from the square ones commonly used. This format enables uniformity in the fermentation process. During the whole process, the boxes are kept closed in order to avoid oxygen passing through the cocoa mixture. This enables lactic and alcoholic fermentation over acetic fermentation. This results in low acid and astringent cocoa, with prominent fruity and herbal notes.
When fermentation is complete, the 
cocoa beans are sun-dried on wooden drying floors with movable roofs. It takes 8 to 12 days to reach a level of 6.5% humidity which determines the end of the drying process. Not only does this process reduce the moisture of the beans guaranteeing recommended storage conditions but also bring about characteristic color, aroma and flavor of chocolate.
Grading evaluation
The dried beans are transported to a warehouse where impurities are removed and possible remaining defective beans (germinated, broken or without cotyledons) are rejected. The cacaos that meet the required quality standards are graded and stored.
The aromas and flavors brought about in the fermentation process now reach their final development. Careful control of time and temperature is of extreme importance to guarantee maturity and body for the chocolate without affecting delicate volatile components. Using a perfect bean allows us a subtle roasting in a short low temperature processes that enables the appearance of the fruity aroma in its splendor.
Conching follows the roasting process. It promotes the final rounding of chocolate particles through friction. This process increases the speed of aeration of the product, enables elimination of water and promotes volatilization of unwanted compounds such as acids that would interfere in the final aroma of chocolate.