The process of making chocolate with minimal ingredients, in our case just cacao and cane sugar, requires a deep understanding of the flavor potential of the cacao we source. Cacao is the foundation of the finished chocolate bar, and that flavor must be developed from its raw form. Roasting is our first chance to impact the finished flavor of the chocolate bar, and without it, chocolate would lack its characteristic aroma and flavor.
If you’ve ever tasted raw cocoa beans, you’ve likely noticed the difference in flavor between that and a finished chocolate bar. Raw cacao has a vegetal and earthy taste, with none of the roasted and nutty chocolate flavors that we associate with this beloved treat. It isn’t until roasting that many of the “classic” flavor notes that you associate with chocolate are developed. Chocolate makers understand the importance of roasting and subsequently take great care in developing unique roast profiles for each bean they use.
At our chocolate factory, we use a restored and modified antique Royal #5 coffee bean roaster to delicately roast each bean origin, paying close attention to the rise and fall of temperature to achieve optimal flavor. We recognize that each bean origin is unique, and therefore requires its own roast profile to bring out its flavor. Often, we blend roast profiles in a single batch to create a unique and delicious chocolate experience. When we source a new origin, we often spend weeks tweaking and testing roast profiles before settling on a profile that highlights all of the subtle nuances of the unique origin.
In addition to developing the chocolate's flavor, roasting has other benefits in the chocolate-making process. As the beans heat up, the outer shell puffs out a little bit. This helps separate the outer husk from the inner bean, making cracking and winnowing (removal of the outer shell of the bean) much easier. This step is essential for ensuring the purity of the chocolate and removing any unwanted flavors that may be present in the outer husk. Furthermore, roasting virtually sterilizes the cocoa bean, reducing the presence of naturally occurring bacteria, fungi, and molds from the fermentation process. Roasting also helps to further reduce moisture content in the cocoa beans.