Within five to six months (140 to 170 days), the tiny flowers that grow directly on the trunk gradually ripen into cocoa pods. By the time they are harvested, they are 15 to 20 cm long, weigh between 300 and 1,500 grams and contain up to fifty seeds embedded in a protective white pulp.
Annual weather conditions and microclimatic influences have an effect on the ripening of the fruit, which require a constant temperature of 25–30°C. Just one excessively chilly night can disrupt the development of the delicate plant.
The colour of fine flavour cocoa depends on the variety and degree of pod ripeness: reddish orange through violet to yellow and green. They can be oval-shaped like melons, or round and reminiscent of mandarins. Typical features of cocoa are the shallow or furrowed grooves on the shell and a distinctive, rounded tip or bottleneck shape.
The cultivation of fine flavour cocoa: from blossom to bean
Cultivation, crop maintenance and harvesting on the plantation play a pivotal role in determining whether the aromas of a specific variety will fully unfold later. Experience, perfect timing and a keen sense of intuition are indispensable.
Cocoa trees, which can grow up to eight metres high, are evergreens that generally need ample shade and nutrient-rich, deep soil. They start to bloom around two to five years after planting and can then bear fruit. Within five to six months, the tiny flowers that grow directly on the trunk ripen into cocoa pods.
To ensure a good harvest, the cocoa farmers have to constantly nurture and care for their fine flavour cocoa trees. Light must be able to penetrate the trunk and flowers. It is also particularly important to prune the tree regularly – up to three times a year. Only 1–5% of the year-round blossoming flowers will ripen into fruit. The blossoms of some of the fine flavour cocoas are even pollinated by hand.
Cocoa can be harvested by hand, and there are generally two harvesting seasons per year. The ripe pods are carefully cut from the trunk using curved knives or machetes and are immediately transported to the central collection point.
Here, the hard shells are opened. Each contains up to fifty cocoa seeds, encased in a foamy white flesh called pulp. After removing the seeds from the husk, they are layered together with the pulp in fermentation boxes, which are covered with banana leaves to protect them.
As soon as the beans are stored in the special boxes, fermentation begins, during which temperatures rise to over 45°C. This is a natural process in which the pulp liquefies and drains away.
Fermentation is an extremely important process since it determines whether the characteristic aroma that should continue to unfold during bean drying and roasting will develop at all. Acids and bitterns are broken down and the fine nuances – fruity, floral or nutty – begin to appear.
During fermentation, the seeds are regularly shifted to create the oxygen required for the process. Then, after around one week, they are laid out on large tables and dried, ideally directly in the sun outside for up to ten days.
Through drying, the cocoa seeds finally become beans. With a residual moisture content of less than 7%, they are now ready for storage and transport. After meticulous inspection and quality control, the cocoa beans are packed into labelled Rausch jute sacks and shipped off to Europe.
The map shows the route covered by our fine flavour cocoa beans, which are shipped directly from the regions of origin along the equator to Europe. Destination: the Port of Hamburg.
The shipment of our freight is carried out under the constant observation of safety measures, for instance careful loading before transport, secure fastening and isolated storage during shipping and immediate quality control upon arrival of the goods in the port.
We have been collaborating with the transport company in charge of shipping our fine flavour cocoas for many years. During the journey, we maintain constant contact with them and closely track their course.
On average, the journey takes 15 to 20 days. The longest distance, from Papua New Guinea (Madang) to the Port of Hamburg, covers 13,046.03 sm (20,995.55 km) and takes 33 days and 17 hours. The shortest, from Venezuela (La Guaira) to the Port of Hamburg, totals 5,168.22 sm(8,317.44 km) and takes 13 days and 8 hours.
Fine flavour cocoa processing: from cocoa beans to cocoa mass
Production is carried out with meticulous care, and our recipes follow the strict Rausch purity regulation. In order to create pure chocolate, we only add unadulterated and fresh ingredients to our fine flavour cocoas.
First, the beans are cleaned and all types of foreign objects, such as stones, are removed. Next, they are gently heated at a maximum of 110°C. During this process, the shells separate from the beans.
In huge plants, the beans are cracked into pieces measuring around three millimetres, known as cocoa nibs, crushed and separated from the husks.
The cocoa nibs are then sterilised with steam and sanitised. Then, roasting follows. Knowledge of the right roasting temperature and duration is crucial for the evolution of the delicate aromas. Fine flavour cocoas require a particular gentle roasting process that varies depending on the variety.
If the roasting process is not adapted to the specific variety, the development of its aromas will be prevented. Roasting the cocoa nibs instead of the whole beans is therefore of particular importance. Thanks to the uniform size of the pieces, a consistent roasting quality is achieved and the aromas of each specific variety are free to unfold.
In special fly cutter and ball mills, the roasted cocoa nibs are crushed further, splitting their cell structure. This releases cocoa butter, which liquefies through grinding and becomes a mass – with a particle size of less than 30 µm. Undesired odours disappear, whilst the characteristics of the fine flavour cocoas continue to evolve and assert themselves. This magnificently fragrant cocoa mass can now be channelled into tanks, which are maintained at an optimal temperature.
The meticulously prepared recipe – our sweet, yet closely guarded secret – is added to the blender and mixed to become a chocolate mass. All of the ingredients are completely natural, without any additives: fine flavour cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cane sugar, and, of course, whole milk powder for the production of fine milk chocolate.
In order to ensure that the chocolate is smooth and not ‘gritty’, the blended chocolate mass is then milled in a precisely configured five-roll refiner with increasingly closer and faster rollers. This results in a fine chocolate powder made up of tiny particles of less than 30 µm that can no longer be perceived by the human tongue.
During conching in the ‘conche’, the finely milled chocolate powder is intensively kneaded over the course of many hours and later added to valuable cocoa butter again.
This constant motion at a controlled temperature enables the aromas to form a perfectly rounded bouquet. All undesired odours and bitterns have now been eliminated. The chocolate has become a pure, melting liquid.
In order to ensure the perfect structure, feel and surface of the processed chocolate and to control the crystallisation of the cocoa butter content, the liquid chocolate is carefully tempered after conching, before being poured into moulds. Tempering is done following a strictly controlled process. Firstly, the temperature is cooled from 45°C to 28°C before being warmed to 29–31°C again.
Today, this temperature sequence is an inherent part of the recipe, and plays a decisive role in the formation of the unique quality characteristics of Rausch chocolate, such as its silky sheen, crisp, clean snap and perfect texture.
Single-origin fine flavour cocoas in place of bulk cocoa
cocoa nibs instead of whole beans
pure and natural, without any additives
a good aroma needs time to develop
perfection achieved through a precisely adapted temperature sequence
At Rausch, we are firmly committed to accompanying the fine flavour cocoas from the very outset. We are represented on the plantations in the regions of origin and track the transport of the beans over the seas. Upon their arrival at the port, we accept the goods and carry out thorough inspections before forwarding them onwards to be transformed into Plantagen-Schokolade. In our manufactory, we process the pure chocolate into milk and dark bars, pralines and other creations. We only use pure ingredients, without any additives: fine flavour cocoa, cocoa butter and cane sugar – and, in the case of milk chocolate, whole milk powder. By deciding to make this type of chocolate, we dedicate ourselves to the strictest quality standards and offer a triple guarantee with the Rausch purity regulation: purity, meticulous care and freshness.
We package, present and sell all of our products at the grand Rausch chocolaterie in Gendarmenmarkt square in Berlin. Here, we warmly invite visitors to step into the sensational world of Rausch chocolate.
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