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Cacao Beans Fermentation & Drying Process 2020.

Cacao Beans Fermentation & Drying Process 2020.

How to select cacao pods :

  • Most suitable pods are three quarte ripe and yellowish green in color.
  • Ripe pods are dried and brown in color.
  • Cacao Pods is ripe when no green after scratching on it.
  • Shake this pods.

Fermentation :

Fermentation is one of the most essential part of flavor development and making chocolate delicious.  
  • Open the pods by hammering on it or by cutting .
  • Scoop out beans.
  • Sprouted beans should be removed.
  • Remove all the extraneous materials like leave, stone etc.

Fermentation Types

  1. Heap Fermentation
  2. Basket Fermentation
  3. Box Fermentation

1.Heap Fermentation 

In Heap Fermentation banana leaves are spread out over sticks a few inches above ground & cacao beans are spread out on the banana leaves.

2.Basket Fermentation

Basket Fermentation ideal for the small scale or small batches and uses woven baskets with holes at the bottom. Inner basket  covered with banana leaves.

3.Box Fermentation 

Box Fermentation varies according to the size.
Size & capacity
1.Small                         50kg to 100kg   
2.Medium                     100kg to 300kg
3.Industrial Size            500kg to above

Uses wooden boxes lined up like a stair case. Top boxes being transfer to the boxes below after few days. After harvesting from the farm cacao being transfer to fermentation area within 4 hours.  So it's not loose the sugar that used during the fermentation. Put all the fresh bean into wooden . Yeast and other microorganisms naturally occur & build by pulp. Which surrounded the beans contains lots of sugar & pulp. Sugar & pulp serves as a food or fuel for microorganisms.

 In first two days anaerobic phase ( In human terms creates environment with lack of oxygen). The cacao beans with pulp feed inside the fermentation boxes & then cover it up, eliminate the entry of oxygen so that yeast quickly consume sugar and produce carbon dioxides, ethanol & heat. The visual and sensory clues during these stage like bubbling effect that is carbon dioxides, heat is being generated as well as liquid runoff or sweating.

Third day Aerobic Phase this phase means creating or setting up condition of environment where we introduce oxygen, during this phase transfer of boxes to different boxes ( upper boxes cacao beans transferred to lower boxes) usually by mixing or motion oxygen incorporated.

Turning the cacao beans it make the make the fermentation process more uniform across the batches in this phase number of microorganisms produce acetic acid and generate the heat 30-45℃. The diffusion of ethanol & acetic acid into the cacao bean break down the cell walls, it successfully kills the cacao beans, there is a chemical reaction that happens inside the beans which leads to the development of cacao flavor and leads to changing color of cacao beans. The changing in color which indicates the final stages of fermentation. 

Five to six day beans pull out from fermentation and proceed to the next stage of post harvest process which is drying.


  • Try to segregate by clones.
  • Record data by the hours.
  • Experiment and enjoy the process.

Drying of Cacao Beans

Cacao drying is done after fermentation to reduce moisture content from around 60% to down 7.5%. Drying should be carried out carefully to ensure that off-flavor are not developed. Drying should take place slowly. After fermentation may chemical reaction nearly inside the beans. The further develop during the drying process. If drying done quickly cacao shells will harden trapping a lot of off-flavor & bitterness inside the cacao beans. 

Types of Drying 

  1. Sun Drying Method
  2. Artificial Drying Method

1.Sun Drying Method

In sun drying method beans are spread out on mats, trays, or floor under sun. In some countries drying takes place on wooden drying floors. Beans are normally turned or raked to ensure uniform of uniform drying, with enough sun light sun drying may taker from 5-6 days.

2.Artificial Sun Drying

Artificial driers use heat exchange theses driers use oil or solid fuels to generate heat. Blowers force hot air through the heaps and create a forced draught dryer. Typically primary disadvantage of artificial drying method may cause smoke & result to off-flavors. We can not control the weather or wind, in some time even smoke smell being absorbed by the cacao beans. It can contribute to smoky or off-flavor in your cacao beans.

For Farmer:

  • Under drying may result to molds when cacao beans are stored,
  • Over drying may result for cacao beans to lose a lot of weight thus loss of potential revenue.

For Chocolate Maker:

  • Post harvest process help in the development of cacao flavor.
  • When working with farmers, determine off-flavor may help improve fermentation or drying protocols.                                                                                                                                            


  • Start with a mall scale drying table, build out rectangular table or make sure that the table as long as the hand reach, it should allow them easy reach.
  • For drying table use bamboo strips and make sure to leave small gaps to facilitate flow .
  • Table on top with mesh net. 
  • It will help in preventing cacao beans from falling of the gaps & prevent from molds.      
  • Location is very important.
  • Adapt to the environment.
  • How you lay down your cacao beans is very important.  
  • Cacao beans should be thicker when it's super hot side.
  • Then spread out the cacao beans on the drying table when it's not so hot.             
  • Provide roof or cover the cacao beans when it rains.              


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