top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Pragati Sawhney MPH

Forget Africa, get Cacao Beans from India!

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

India, a land rich in cultural diversity and heritage, has long been celebrated for its aromatic spices, vibrant fabrics, and exquisite craftsmanship. However, tucked away in the shadows of these renowned treasures lies a hidden gem – cacao beans from India. In recent years, Indian cacao beans have gained recognition for their unique flavors and potential in the world of craft chocolate. In this blog, we embark on a captivating journey that explores the origin of cacao beans from India, their transformation into bean-to-bar chocolate, and the artistry behind this delectable craft.


Discovering Indian Cacao Beans


India is the 19th largest producer of cacao beans after West African countries. All these countries, with India, included, are near the equator, with a hot, rainy climate perfect for the Theobroma Cacao tree. It produces 1% of the cacao produced in Ivory Coast. and less than 0.33% of total world production. Cacao, scientifically known as Theobroma cacao, thrives in tropical climates, and India's diverse geography provides the perfect environment for cultivating this remarkable crop. The southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu boast the ideal combination of rainfall, temperature, and humidity that cacao trees require. These regions are renowned for producing high-quality Indian cacao beans, which possess distinct flavors and characteristics.


Unveiling the Flavors of Indian Cacao Beans


Indian cacao beans showcase a diverse range of flavor profiles that reflect the unique terroir and genetic variations present in the region. The coastal plantations of Kerala offer cacao beans with notes of tropical fruits, while the Western Ghats region is known for beans with hints of spices and earthy undertones. The rich volcanic soil of the Nilgiri Mountains in Tamil Nadu imparts a subtle nuttiness to the beans. These distinct flavors have captivated the attention of chocolate connoisseurs and inspired the emergence of the Indian bean-to-bar chocolate movement.


The Rise of Indian Bean-to-Bar Chocolate

Traditionally, India has been a consumer of mass-produced chocolate rather than a producer. However, in recent years, a growing number of passionate chocolatiers and entrepreneurs have embarked on a quest to showcase the unique flavors of Indian cacao beans through the art of bean-to-bar chocolate making. By taking control of the entire chocolate-making process – from sourcing the beans to crafting the final product – these artisans have ignited a revolution in the Indian chocolate industry.


History of Indian Cacao industry

Cacao cultivation in India was started in the 1970s when cocoa was introduced in the South by CPCRI (Central Plantation Crops Research Institute in Kasargod, Kerala -Cacao research facility supported by the government). For every coconut tree, the government mandated farmers to plant 5 cocoa trees. During the time, Cadbury bought the wet beans from all the farmers and it seemed like a good crop for a while. However, in 1984, the factory was shut down because of some internal problems and there was no one to buy cocoa for a couple of years. This caused an economic loss to farmers and most of them cut down all their trees to replace them with something that would give them some income.

Campo Co-operative purchased the Cadbury factory and processed cocoa, but paid only 10% of what Cadbury used to pay. Having no alternative option, these farmers sold all the produce to Campo until a couple of years ago.


About Chockriti Bean to Bar Chocolates


Chockriti obtains its cacao beans from two distinct farms located in the same region. The farmers in this area have adopted a unique approach by refraining from cutting down their trees, which helps to minimize water evaporation. The first farm spans 10 acres and has been practicing organic cocoa farming for the past 50 years without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. On the other hand, the second farm covers 35 acres, with cocoa being cultivated in a smaller section of 3 acres. Additionally, there have been recent planting activities taking place among areca crops and some uncultivated land.


In my conversation with the farm owners, I discovered that they have continuously improved their skills through research and experimentation. They aspire to revolutionize cocoa cultivation to meet international standards. My encounter with these farms happened by chance when one of the experienced farmers reached out to me, urging me to try their chocolate. Prior to that, he had already tested four other cacao brands from South India but found them unsatisfactory. Some were excessively bitter, others had a gritty texture, and a few we overly acidic.


However, the cacao from these farms stood out—it possessed a balanced flavor profile, exhibiting just the right amount of sweetness, fermentation, and a remarkably smooth consistency. I was particularly pleased to learn that their chocolate was made solely using pure Palmyra palm jaggery, without the addition of Soy Lecithin or Vanilla.


This discovery excited me greatly, considering that many customers in the US have allergies to Soy Lecithin, and I had been searching for a refined sugar alternative in high-quality chocolate. Nevertheless, it took several months of testing their chocolate with various cacao percentages to fine-tune my recipes.


Currently, Chockriti specializes in producing Bean to Bar chocolate using organically grown Indian cacao sourced from a single estate and origin. The chocolate comprises only two ingredients—pure cacao and pure Palmyra Palm Jaggery. For flavor variations, they incorporate all-natural extracts derived from real teas, spices, flowers, and herbs. The current range of flavors includes Tea of Morocco, Turkish Coffee, Thandai, Orange Blossom, Orange Basil Pepper, Sandalwood, Lemongrass, and Chameli.

It's important to note that although the farms practice organic farming, they have not obtained official certification due to financial constraints. It is worth mentioning that certain companies do acquire certification and may even display the USDA symbol on their packaging.


However, it's essential to recognize that the USDA symbols or logos are strictly intended for the official use of the United States Department of Agriculture. They should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any commercial product or service. The use of the USDA symbol or logo is prohibited for anyone outside of the USDA without prior permission.


The Art of Tasting Indian Bean-to-Bar Chocolate


Tasting Indian bean-to-bar chocolate is a sensory experience like no other. Each bar tells a story, taking the consumer on a journey through the flavors and nuances carefully crafted by the chocolatier. The initial snap of the chocolate bar reveals its quality, while the aroma wafting from the broken piece sets the stage for the taste exploration to come.


As the chocolate melts on the tongue, flavors unfold, evolving from the initial notes to a symphony of taste sensations. Indian bean-to-bar chocolate invites chocolate lovers to savor every bite and appreciate the craftsmanship behind this extraordinary treat.


The Craftsmanship Behind Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making


Craft chocolate is a labor of love, where each step of the process is meticulously attended to. The journey begins with the selection of premium Indian cacao beans. These beans undergo careful fermentation and drying to develop their distinct flavors and remove any unwanted bitterness. The chocolatiers then roast the beans to bring out their rich aromas before cracking, winnowing, and grinding them into a smooth, velvety paste known as chocolate liquor.


The next stage involves refining the chocolate liquor and conching, a process that involves agitating the chocolate for several hours to improve its texture and flavor. At this point, the chocolatier has the option to add other ingredients such as sugar, milk powder, or various spices to create unique flavor combinations. Finally, the chocolate is tempered, molded, and left to solidify, resulting in exquisite bars of Indian bean-to-bar chocolate.


One of the best Bean to Bar machines is available at CocoaTown. You can get a 3% discount if you enter this coupon code PS2030IN


One of the best conferences in the Cacao Industry is the Chocoa. CHOCOA [pronounced: cho-ko-wa] is an annual marketplace for cocoa and chocolate for quality and sustainability: A place where cocoa and chocolate are traded, new business contacts are made, and existing ones reinforced. Their next conference is between the 7th-11th of February 2024.


How to Make Bean-to-Bar Chocolate at Home

Creating bean-to-bar chocolate at home is a rewarding endeavor that allows chocolate enthusiasts to explore their creativity and develop a deeper appreciation for the craft. Here's a step-by-step guide to making your own bean-to-bar chocolate:

Step 1: Sourcing Quality Cacao Beans Begin by sourcing high-quality cacao beans from reputable suppliers. Look for beans that are ethically sourced and have flavor profiles that appeal to your taste preferences. You may choose Indian cacao beans for a unique experience or experiment with beans from different origins.

Step 2: Fermentation and Drying Fermentation is a critical step in developing the flavors of cacao beans. Remove the beans from the pods and allow them to ferment in a clean container for several days, stirring them occasionally. Once fermentation is complete, spread the beans out to dry in a well-ventilated area, turning them regularly until they reach the desired moisture content.

Step 3: Roasting and Grinding Roast the dried cacao beans in an oven or a specialized roasting machine to enhance their flavors. Once roasted, remove the shells by cracking the beans and winnowing them. Grind the roasted nibs using a grinder or a stone melanger until they form a smooth, liquid consistency.

Step 4: Refining and Tempering Refine the chocolate liquor by running it through a grinder or melanger for an extended period to achieve a smooth texture. At this stage, you may add sugar or other desired ingredients to create your preferred flavor profile. Finally, temper the chocolate by carefully heating and cooling it to encourage stable crystal formation, resulting in a glossy finish and satisfying snap.


Please read more about the process of Chocolate Making here: https://www.ecolechocolat.com/en/how-chocolate-is-made.html

Conclusion

The journey of cacao beans from India to craft chocolate represents a captivating tale of flavors, craftsmanship, and passion. The rise of Indian bean-to-bar chocolate has opened doors to a world of unique taste experiences, allowing chocolate enthusiasts to appreciate the nuances of Indian cacao beans and the skillful artistry of chocolatiers. Whether you choose to embark on your own bean-to-bar adventure or savor the creations of talented artisans, Indian cacao beans offer a truly delightful experience that embodies the rich cultural heritage and flavors of this vibrant nation.

More interesting reads and references: http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/package-of-practices/plantation-crops/cocoa https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/food/although-indias-consumption-of-chocolate-is-steadily-growing-but-we-still-depend-on-imports-for-cocoa/articleshow/58766956.cms?from=mdr https://www.chocolatiers.co.uk/blogs/guides/56415365-indian-cacao http://theindianvegan.blogspot.com/2012/10/all-about-cacao.html https://mirzam.com/blog-post/the-cacao-side-of-india/

2 Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Samir M
Samir M
Dec 04, 2021

I read all your 4 articles and it has very detailed information. The first one is something which most entrepreneur will connect too. One thing great though is you have already done your 1000days.

Like

Cocoa Mantra
Cocoa Mantra
Apr 07, 2021

Nice article and lot of information. Yes India has been producing some nice natural flavour cacao beans. Please visit us at www.CocoaMantra.com to find out various organic cacao products.


Thank you

Like
bottom of page