Learn All About Amazing Cocoa Beans And Its Various Uses! | Kidadl


Learn All About Amazing Cocoa Beans And Its Various Uses!

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Be it a kid or an adult, chocolate is everyone's favorite snack.

There are so many varieties of exquisite and delicious chocolates available in the market. Milk chocolate, bitter-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and some chocolates are even given a tinge of different flavors and spices.

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans. The ambrosial smell that chocolate has comes from these fantastic beans. Some people also like to add cocoa powder to their coffee and get that amazing mixture of hot chocolate and coffee to drink on cold evenings. We use cocoa beans on a daily basis in one product or the other. Let's get engrossed in the world of cocoa beans, their history, processing, and much more!

If you are really a cocoa bean fan, you should check out some of our other fun facts articles, like where does cocoa come from and are cocoa beans a vegetable.

History Of Cocoa

From America to China, Antarctica to the Arctic, everyone loves a cup of hot chocolate with some roasted marshmallows as a sider. We all know that this chocolate comes from a tree having cacao pods which in turn contain our beloved cocoa beans. But when were these cocoa beans discovered, and how did people know the beans in the cacao pod could make something so delicious? Let's dive into cocoa beans' history!

The history of cocoa dates back to several thousands of years. Researchers have found a significant number of pieces of evidence of foods based on cocoa beans which date back to more than 5000 years. In South America, around 5,300 years ago, Mayans and Aztecs are said to be the populations who learned to develop and plant a cacao tree to extract cacao beans from a cocoa pod. It was after this that the Olmecs from Mexico introduced cacao beans to Central America. Cacao beans in various forms were already being consumed by the pre-hispanic cultures that lived along the region of Yucatán, which included the Mayans and the Olmecs later, 4000 years ago.

Then cocoa beans reached West Africa when the Portuguese from the New World brought the cacao tree to the West African Tropics. They reportedly planted the cacao tree first in 1822 on the island of San Thome. Similarly, when the Spanish Conquistadors entered the New World, they understood the value of cocoa beans and mixed the cocoa bean drink with sugar and spices to make the bitter taste milder. They tried to keep the recipe secret for almost 100 years from other European nations. But soon, the foods made from cocoa beans spread across western Europe, and both, the French and British royalty hailed hot chocolate as a beverage made for upper classes and named it delicious as well as healthy and eventually gained the title of being an aphrodisiac.

Processing Of Cocoa Beans

But where do such delicacies come from? What is the supply chain process, and how do they get their unforgettable and amazing taste? Yes, you guessed it right. The answer is cocoa beans from the cocoa tree. Read more to know more about the processing that the fantastic cocoa beans go through to create some really awesome chocolate products!

The first step for processing any good tropical plant is to harvest and clean it, and a cocoa tree is no exception. Just like most other tropical plants, the cocoa tree has a harvesting season that is spread across different months, which have a major and minor peak of the pod being ripe to be harvested. The cocoa pods are removed with a knife but carefully so as to avoid any kind of harm to the raw cocoa bean flower cushions. The cacao bean is then cleaned thoroughly to remove any kind of foreign material like machete blades or shotgun shells. This is done after the international regulatory norms and tests are performed. The next step is to ferment the cocoa beans to get the perfect flavor. Fermentation (on the farm) and roasting (in the factory) processes go hand in hand to generate the distinct flavors of cocoa beans, and a good flavor cannot be gained by just performing one of them. The fermentation of wet cocoa beans is done on the farm by using a grower for 36-72 hours, and the cocoa beans are then dried for being roasted in the factory.

The cacao beans are roasted based on the food product we wish to make. For a beverage like chocolate liquor and a product like milk chocolate, both will have different roast levels. Separation of the nibs or meat from the shells is the process of winnowing. Next comes nibs grinding, wherein the nibs are mixed with granulated sugar so as to yield the desired fluid form of the cacao bean from a paste. After the consistency is changed from a paste to a fluid, alkalization takes place wherein the obtained cacao material, be it cacao liquor or cocoa cake, is mixed with an alkaline compound like potassium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, and calcium carbonate. The color of the resulting substance is either reddish-brown or charcoal black.

Next is liquor pressing, wherein the cacao liquor, which is hot, is around 392 F (200 C) in temperature is pumped onto a hydraulic press which also has high operating pressures. Followed by that, cacao grinding takes place, and as a result, cacao butter can be obtained, which is used in most food recipes.


A cocoa bean is obtained from the cacao tree. From the processed and cleaned cocoa bean, we get the paste, liquor, or cocoa powder that is used to make different products like chocolate and cakes. But what are other food products made from these? Let's take a look.

To create the yummy chocolate from cacao beans, chocolate manufacturing takes place. The manufacturing uses cocoa butter, cocoa pods, liquor, and sugar. These three ingredients are first batched, that are assorted with milk powder. The particle reduction is performed to obtain the smoothness of chocolate, followed by conching and standardization to adjust the viscosity. This is how chocolate is formed from cocoa pods, cocoa butter. Manufacturers sell this product directly as bars of chocolate, baking chocolate, and packaged cocoa to use in food products. Confectioners also use this as a coating for the candy bars that they make or other boxed chocolates that they produce. Bakers use the product for coating cakes and cookies.

Various frozen royalties are also made out of the cocoa solids like ice creams. Different food products use chocolate liquor and cocoa powder to give chocolate flavors to products like syrups, pharmaceuticals, toppings, and cake mixes. Distilled beverages, oilseeds, cocoa solids, red wine, and hazelnut chocolates.

amazing mixture of hot chocolate and coffee

Interesting Facts About Cocoa Beans

From the ground to our house, we took a look at the journey of cocoa beans from the pods to being a proper food product like a bar of chocolate. We also know that cocoa beans have other benefits than just a great flavor. Now, let's take a deep dive into some of the extremely interesting facts about cocoa beans.

A cocoa tree or a chocolate plant looks like a 30 ft (9.14 m) tall tree with bloated cucumber-like pods. A cocoa pod looks like a small melon that grows directly from the trunk and has around 20-50 beans in it. The cocoa tree takes around five years to grow and mature and produce its first fruit seed pods. A pound of chocolate takes up at least 400 cocoa beans. Cocoa beans and chocolate have various health benefits, which were discovered by the Mayans and other ancient tribes in 600 AD. Dark chocolate can help cure heart diseases, which is due to the flavonoids in the cocoa tree. Christopher Columbus brought cocoa beans to King Ferdinand in the year 1502 from the New World. The initial and the first chocolate bar was created in 1848, even though chocolate reached Europe in 1585 itself. Dorchester, Massachusetts, has the very first chocolate house in the US. The annual cocoa production throughout the world is 3 million tonnes (3 billion kg). Hot chocolate was once considered to be a beverage that was only accessible for the royalty and was not affordable for the poor. You can also enjoy the fruit pulp of cocoa beans and eat the fresh cocoa fruit. You can find most cocoa beans in West African countries as the world's 70 % cocoa beans grow and come from here.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Get to know cocoa beans that can be candy, beverages, and more, then why not take a look at cocoa powder nutrition facts or are coconuts fruit?

Written By
Sridevi Tolety

Sridevi's passion for writing has allowed her to explore different writing domains, and she has written various articles on kids, families, animals, celebrities, technology, and marketing domains. She has done her Masters in Clinical Research from Manipal University and PG Diploma in Journalism From Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. She has written numerous articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories, which have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. She is fluent in four languages and likes to spend her spare time with family and friends. She loves to read, travel, cook, paint, and listen to music.

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