Our cocoa expertise

From tree to bean and from bean to bar

The chocolate-making process

From tree to bean and from bean to bar

How does the bean turn into chocolate?

Learn about the key stages of preparation and all the efforts made by our planters and craftsmen to enhance this exceptional product.

 

 

From tree to bean

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree to bean Harvesting bean to bar

Harvesting

Cocoa pods are harvested twice each year: in spring and in autumn.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree to bean Bean extraction bean to bar

Bean extraction

Cocoa pods are opened with a machete. They contain ‘cocoa honey’ which is consumed on the plantations along with the pulp – mucilage – that protects the beans.

The first aromas of the bean can be detected.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree to bean Fermentation bean to bar

Fermentation

Fermentation = bringing out the aroma of the cocoa

Shortly after harvesting, the beans and some of their pulp are collected for fermentation.

This process takes place in special containers covered with banana leaves that keep the heat in. Alcohol is produced by the pulp and the beans acquire their cocoa aromas. At a precise moment, the process is stopped; this accounts for the unique flavour of the cocoa. The initial aromas from the extraction phase are enhanced and established.

This process takes between 4 and 7 days.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree to bean Drying bean to bar

Drying

The beans are dried in the sun to bring their humidity down from 7% to 3%.

This is another delicate and precise process as they must be sufficiently dry that they don’t rot but not so dry that they burn in the roasting process.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree to bean Sorting bean to bar

Sorting

Mouldy or damaged beans are removed from the batches.

The rest are put into sacks in which they are transported to the chocolate-producing factories.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Tree bean to bean to bar

On the way to the bean to bar…

The cocoa beans arrive at the workshop, where they will go through several stages before being transformed into chocolate!

From bean to bar

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Storing bean to bar

Storing

The beans are stored in a dedicated area beside the production workshop.

They are kept in jute bags weighing between 60 and 70kg (132 to 154 pounds).

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Roasting bean to bar

Roasting

« The art of roasting »

The most delicate and carefully-timed step of the whole process, roasting brings out the character of the beans and amplifies their aromas without burning them.

A cocoa bean can contain up to 115 different aromatic notes: some bitter, some fruity, some floral, and some woody.
Pierre Marcolini roasts the cocoa beans at 120˚c for 40 minutes.

With each batch this is checked.

 

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Refining bean to bar

Refining

The roasted beans are crushed with sugar to produce a smooth paste with grains 25 microns thick.

Did you know?
By finely crushing vanilla or pepper their full flavour is released. The same is true of cocoa beans.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Conching bean to bar

Conching

At the Pierre Marcolini Maison, artisanal conching increases the smoothness, fluidity, and delicacy of the chocolate paste.
Depending on the source of the beans or the type of chocolate being produced, this step takes between 18 and 48 hours. We conch for 48 hours.

This process makes couverture chocolate.

Most chocolatiers only begin working with chocolate after this process. Very few chocolatiers produce their own couverture chocolate; most buy it from larger factories.

Pierre Marcolini Cocoa Expertise Production of the tablet bean to bar

Production of the tablet

The couverture chocolate is solidified to stabilise the cocoa butter contained in the bean. This takes place at temperatures between 28 and 32°C depending on the type of chocolate.
It is set in one of the Maison’s iconic moulds.

Our growers and their plantations

The Pierre Marcolini Maison selects the finest beans of each variety, sourced from small plantations with unique and traditional expertise.

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