The most important stage on the way to creating the flavour of the chocolate from the fresh, bitter cocoa beans is the fermentation of the cocoa beans. Depending on the region and its traditions, cocoa farmers use totally different fermentation methods, such as the so-called cascade fermentation process, for example (see image below).
First of all, our team put the fresh fine flavour cocoa seeds with the pulp into the top wooden box and cover it with banana leaves. That is important because the leaves are inoculated naturally with yeasts and these yeasts convert the sugar from the cocoa pod pulp into alcohol.
Most yeasts, however, do not like oxygen, therefore we leave the fine flavour cocoa to ferment for the first 48 hours. On the second day, we turn the cocoa seeds and tip them into the box below. Depending on the variety and climate, this process takes four to six days. Through the turning, air reaches the cocoa mass and bacteria develop which convert the alcohol into acids.
They produce so much heat that the cocoa can reach a temperature of 55° Celsius! These high temperatures and the resulting acids ultimately cause the cocoa seeds to die and thus lead to the precursory stages for what later becomes the flavour of the chocolate. The cocoa seeds become palatable.