Good chocolate can improve one's mood even on the rainiest of days. However, before the final product is ready, the cocoa beans have to undergo multiple processing stages. The technological process consists of several phases, but the end result is definitely worth it.
At the beginning, after the cocoa beans have been inspected and weighed, they undergo cleaning. The cleaned beans are then sorted and, if necessary, treated. This step consists of an alkaline bath, filtering, fermenting, and drying. Whether or not the beans require treatment, the next step is to roast and cool the sorted beans. The roasted beans are then processed in a winnower to extract the nibs from the shells, which are then ground into a cake on rollers or in grinders. This grinding results in the first semi-finished product necessary for making chocolate, the liquid cocoa liquor.
To obtain the second component, part of the liquor is transferred to hydraulic presses to extract the cocoa fat. This second semi-finished product will be used later to make our chocolate products. After the pressing process, there remains a dry fraction of the liquor – the cocoa powder.
Returning to the process of producing chocolate products, the next step is to mix the remaining part of the cocoa liquor (not pressed) with the fat and powdered sugar in kneaders/grinders. This may seem surprising, as we mentioned separating the fat from the cake in the previous step, but it is a necessary process. In its original form, the cocoa liquor has too low a fat content, which, after mixing with powdered sugar, may result in the consistency at molding temperature not being fluid enough. Hence, the proportions of fat in the final chocolate mass are improved. Having obtained such a mixed semi-finished product, it is then ground one or several times on roller mills, which significantly reduces the size of the particles in the mass and causes any excess water to evaporate.
One of the final stages of chocolate mass production is conching or hours-long mixing of the mass at high temperatures. This process makes the product perfectly smooth and ready for further processing or packaging.
The final product creation process starts with tempering the chocolate mixture, which is then poured into the appropriate molds and cooled. The solidified products are then removed from the molds and transferred to packaging and storage.
The above described process can also be presented in the form of the following diagram:
Diagram 1: Steps in processing chocolate mixture - from bean to finished product 
Such a complex process means that there are many steps in which a mistake can be made, causing the chocolate to lose its divine taste or appearance. The quality of the produced chocolate is most affected by:
- the size, quality, and purity of the beans,
- bean refining,
- the roasting temperature and subsequent cooling and storage of the roasted beans,
- the proper conching and tempering process,
- correct molding and packaging.
The most common problems that can arise from an improper execution of the chocolate production process are:
- Fat bloom - white deposits (spots or on the entire product surface) caused by the growth of cocoa fat on the surface of the product,
- Sugar bloom - gray, shiny spots of crystallized sugar,
- Lack of shine/dullness of the product,
- Incorrect tablet break,
- Other problems related to the taste of chocolate.
In the next post, we will go into detail on how to effectively prevent the above effects at each stage of chocolate production.