During the roasting process some of the water which is a natural part of the cocoa bean is evaporated. Consequently, the percentage of the fat ingredient in the roasted nibs is raised to the high proportion of about 55 per cent. In the preparation of cocoa the main objective is to extract sufficient of the fat, known as "cocoa butter," to leave behind a product which shall be soluble and digestible, and which at the same time shall retain enough fat to make it highly nutritive. The crushing machine we have been watching has been dealing with the particular blend of beans which is used for "Bournville" cocoa, and countless truck-loads of nibs from this blend are ready for the mills. Dodging the full trucks which are being wheeled out in quick succession and the empty ones that are being rushed back for a fresh load, we follow our guides to the mill-house, and emerge from a wide corridor into a spacious apartment that is humming with the chorus of grindstones. From end to end of the room stretch row upon row of mills, some with one pair of grindstones, some with two pairs, some with three pairs; overhead, the machinery belting in ceaseless motion looks like decorative festoons dancing in a breeze. At random we come to a standstill before one of the mills to watch the performance of its merry-go-round grindstones.
A batch of nibs is showered into a hopper which automatically feeds the mill. The motion of the horizontal millstones generates heat, and as the nibs come within their clutches they are crushed to powder; at the same time the heat turns the powder into a fluid by melting its butter ingredient. The melting-point of cocoa butter is 91° Fahrenheit. When the mills are in full swing they generate heat well above this temperature, and are easily capable, therefore, of doing their work without the assistance of artificial heat; but when, after a week-end's rest, they are quite cold, they are restarted with the help of a gas-burner. A second grinding results in a finer paste, and a third grinding fines it down to Epicurean standard.
Now comes the process of extracting a given proportion of the butter ingredient. Crossing the room to the press department, we see how the butter is removed by mechanical means.
The cocoa paste is ladled out into clean press-cloths of very fine texture. The sides and ends of each cloth are folded over to form a large oblong package about two inches in thickness. These packages of cocoa paste look like brown-paper parcels. The packages are put into hydraulic presses. Immediately the presses are set in motion the butter begins to ooze through the cloths in the form of oil. The oil is collected by a receptacle at the base of each press. The oil in its raw state is, as you would expect, brown in colour, tinged with the cocoa hue of the nibs in which it has resided. It is taken belowstairs to a dairy-like apartment, where it is refined and put into moulds to cool; thus it is changed into slabs of cream-coloured cocoa butter, which are used, as we shall see presently, in the manufacture of chocolate. During the war, when comparatively little chocolate was made, there was a surplus of cocoa butter, which, as you know, made its appearance for sale in the shops. Cocoa butter is one of the richest of fats.
In a few minutes the requisite amount of oil has been removed from the cocoa paste by presses adjusted to exert just the right degree of power for extracting so much and no more of the fat. The packages are now taken out of the presses, the cloths unfolded, and lo and behold ! what went into them as a fluid paste has become solid blocks of cocoa.
Another type of hydraulic press is fitted with a drum-like container for filter-cloths and cocoa paste; in such the paste, after expression of part of its butter ingredient, takes the form of a solid disc of cocoa.
After leaving the press, each block of cocoa, round or oblong, is weighed. The blocks are wheeled away to an adjoining room, where other special machines grind them to powder. The powder is put on trays and set aside to cool. The cooled powder is reground and conducted to sieves of very fine mesh; all of it which comes through the sieves has passed the final test for upholding the reputation of Bournville cocoa, and is ready for packing.
The packing-room presents a very different scene from anything we have witnessed in the other departments we have visited. Hitherto the outstanding feature has been machines, but now our attention is held by rows upon rows of women and girls. How fresh and clean and neat they all look in their white dresses and caps ! We are struck, too, by another picturesque note in our surroundings; everything and everybody is patterned over in shades of brown - loose cocoa, seeking escape from confinement in tins and boxes, weaves quaint and pretty pictures on any clinging-place it can find.
All the packers are engaged in some operation connected with putting up certain weights of cocoa, mostly pounds and half-pounds, into tins and cartons. There is a wonderful little machine which weighs the cocoa into a parchment packet and slips the packet into a tin; the cocoa comes streaming through a funnel, and when the packet beneath contains its correct weight the supply is automatically shut off. Another little marvel machine puts labels on the tins. Plain round tins, lying on their sides, go racing along a narrow platform, one behind the other in endless procession, pick up a ready-gummed label en route, and slide gently off the other end of the platform bearing the well-known red-and-yellow identity label of Bournville Cocoa neatly wrapped round their bodies.
Pure cocoa, as we now know, consists of ground cocoa beans from which part of the fat ingredient has been extracted. Pure chocolate, on the other hand, consists of ground cocoa beans containing all their fat, together with a liberal allowance of sugar, and more cocoa butter in proportion to the sugar allowance; sometimes, too, flavouring, such as vanilla, is added and for milk chocolate fresh milk is included in the mixture.
A View Of The Girls' Recreation Grounds At Bournville
The beans are prepared in the same way as for cocoa up to the stage of being crushed into nibs. To see what happens to them next we are taken to the chocolate -mill room. Here we find some large machines fitted with granite millstones and others equipped with rollers. The millstones occupy the centre of a capacious bowl. Into this bowl bucketfuls of cocoa nibs are shot, and in a few seconds they are ground into a fluid paste, just as if they were being prepared for transformation into cocoa. A liberal allowance of refined but melted cocoa-butter is now poured into the paste, and, following this, shower upon shower of fine white sugar. The sugar absorbs both the butter supply that has been set free in the grinding of the nibs and that which has been added, and the resulting mixture is a stiff paste. This paste is transferred to a near neighbouring rolling machine; it emerges from the powerful rollers in the form of thin friable sheets. The mass of sheets is passed on to another rolling machine, called the roll refiner, and the material after passing through this second set of rollers is a fine dry powder. The powder is put into a mixing machine, where it is automatically stirred up with another allowance of cocoa butter to form a smooth, soft, brown paste. The transformation of the paste into a solid is the natural result of the cocoa butter in the chocolate being brought under the influence of cold air; just as the butter ingredient in the cocoa beans begins to melt at a temperature of about 91° Fahrenheit, so it begins to set in the paste at a temperature below that melting-point.
We have been on our feet for nearly four hours at a stretch, but we have been so interested in all we have seen that we do not think of feeling tired until our host suggests we must be wanting lunch and a rest.
On our way to lunch, we pass through spacious rooms in which centres are made for fancy chocolates, centres are covered with chocolate, and miniature cakes of plain and milk chocolate, known as Bourn-ville Neapolitans, are wrapped in paper and tinfoil by a little-marvel machine. En route to lunch, too, we begin to get more closely in touch with the social side of the Bournville enterprise. We pass through the Girls' Dining-room. Over two thousand women and girls are having a meal in a cool and airy hall; everything is so clean that, in popular language, you could eat off the floor. From the menu boards on the walls, we gather that choice can be made from a wide variety of fare, and that two substantial courses of meat, vegetables, and pudding cost about a shilling. Helpings are liberal, and the food is of best quality, nicely cooked, and served in an appetizing way. The Staff Dining-room, where we do full justice to an excellent lunch, has all the advantages of a first-class restaurant without the customary drawbacks of high prices, bustle, and clatter. The Works' dining-rooms play an important part in the Bournville social system; besides those we have seen, there are equally comfortable ones for the men, forewomen, foremen, and clerks. All the dining-rooms are served from a large and fully-equipped kitchen. The workers can bring their own food if they like, and cook it in a special kitchen. On an average 3,570 meals are provided daily for the workpeople, or over a million a year, and these figures do not include the annual total of some 22,000 meals served at social and other functions.
Unloading Cocoa Beans At One Of The Factories Of J. S. Fry And Sons, Ltd., Bristol
Thoroughly refreshed, we go out into the beautiful grounds surrounding the factory and belonging to the workpeople. The men's recreation grounds cover an area of thirteen acres, and those reserved for the girls are nearly as extensive; also there are sixty acres of land used as additional playing fields. In each case a portion of the grounds is a restful retreat of gardens and shady walks, and a portion is laid out to meet the requirements of all modern sports and athletics.
On we go, this time to the workshops which make the "Factory in a Garden" self-supporting for the accessories of cocoa and chocolate production. We visit the shops in which tins, cardboard boxes, and wooden packing-cases are made; the printing works; the engineering shops; the power and lighting house; the sawmills.
Surrounding the Bournville factory and its grounds is the Bournville model village, which was founded by Mr. George Cadbury, one of the pioneers of the movement for the better housing of the people.
The necessity of running for our train brings our happy "Day at Bournville" to an end.