The Cocoa Tree; Preparation Of The Bean For Market

All cocoa and chocolate preparations {Cacao theobroma) are products of the seeds of the cocoa-tree, a native of the tropic parts of America. These seeds, called cocoa beans, are about the size of almonds. They lie encased in shells, surrounded by fibrous pulp, in a brownish yellow pod which grows to be from six to twelve inches long. The pods as they ripen are cut off with knives fastened on poles, and are left on the ground for twenty-four hours to dry. The beans and pulp are then removed and allowed to ferment for several days. Fermentation loosens the pulp and the skin of the bean and prevents germination (sprouting). It also darkens the beans and mellows their flavor. After they have been washed and thoroughly dried, they are packed in sacks for shipping.

1 A confusing use of terms has resulted from retaining both the name chocolate, by which plant and beverage were known to the natives of Mexico, and cocoa, a changed form of cacao, the name given to them by the Spanish. The cocoa tree belongs to a different family from the cocoa-nut palm.

Manufacture Of Cocoas And Chocolates

At the factory the beans are cleaned, sorted, and roasted. The shells are cracked off and the beans crushed into the irregular bits we know as cocoa nibs or cracked cocoa. The papery husks are winnowed out. These are sold as cocoa shells. If the nibs are to be made into either chocolate or powdered cocoa, they are ground between slightly warmed stones. They contain so much fat that the warmth and grinding reduce them to paste (p. 214). If this paste or "cocoa-mass" is to be made into powdered cocoa, more than half the fat is extracted. The dry substance left is sifted, ground, and put up in tins. If chocolate is to be made, the fat is left in. Sometimes more is added. The paste is made smooth and fine by passing it between pairs of rollers. It may then be moulded. This makes plain chocolate. For sweet chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes spice, are added before moulding. For milk chocolate, milk, either condensed or dried and powdered, is added besides sugar and vanilla. Dutch powdered cocoas are treated with alkalies. This process is not altogether desirable. Cheap chocolate may be adulterated with starch and cocoa husks. The extracted fat, called cocoa-butter, is valuable.

Composition And Food Value Of Cocoa And Chocolate

Chocolate is a food. An average sample of roasted cocoa contains about 9% of starch, 15% of nitrogenous matter, and 50% of fat. (Observe fat-globules on chocolate that has been standing.) It contains a very little caffeine and more theobromine, a substance similar to caffeine, also a tanninlike substance. It is somewhat stimulating, but it does not interfere with digestion as tea and coffee do. Milk chocolate and sweet chocolate are compact foods for trampers, explorers, and soldiers. The sugar in it increases its food value. Not enough cocoa is used in making a beverage, however, to give it any appreciable food value, beyond that of the milk and sugar in it. Generally speaking, it is whole-some, even for children and the sick. Chocolate makes a more nutritious beverage, but is too rich in fat for constant use. Cocoa shells makes a wholesome cheap drink.

Cocoa is insoluble, but when boiled with water the starch thickens sufficiently to keep the other solid particles suspended. So-called "soluble cocoas" are so prepared that they remain in suspension longer than other kinds.

Cocoa Made From Cracked Cocoa

Cracked cocoa (or cocoa and cocoa shells), 1/2 c. Boiling water, 3 pt.

Boil cocoa and water together for two hours or more; strain and serve with milk and sugar. Since cocoa made in this way improves by cooking, do not throw away what is left in the pot, but add each day more water and a little fresh cocoa, and boil again. Once a week empty and clean the pot.

Breakfast Cocoa

Scalded milk, 1 pt. Boiling water, 1 pt.

Prepared cocoa, 3 tb. Sugar, 3 tb.

Mix the cocoa and sugar in a saucepan; stir in the water gradually, and boil five minutes; add the milk and cook five minutes longer, or until smooth and free from any raw taste. Beat well with a Dover egg-beater to prevent albuminous skin from forming.

To make cocoa which will not settle on standing, mix thoroughly half a tablespoonful of cornstarch with the cocoa and sugar. This makes a smooth, creamy beverage.


Chocolate, 2 squares. Sugar, 4 tb.

Boiling water, 1 c. Hot milk, 3 c.

Cut the chocolate into bits. Melt it in a saucepan set over hot water. Add the sugar and water, stirring till smooth. Pour into this part of the milk, then pour the chocolate back into the rest of the milk, and stir till it comes to the boiling-point. Beat till frothy with an egg-whisk or a Dover beater.

For a luncheon or for afternoon tea serve in tall cups. It is customary to put a spoonful of whipped cream (101) on the top of each cup. Why would it be more sensible to add cream to cocoa, not to chocolate?

Brief Reference List

For further development of topics treated in this section see: -

Ward : Grocers' encyclopedia.

Sherman : Food products. Pp. 465, 466.

Hutchison : Food and the principles of dietetics. Ch. 18, p. 332, Effects of tea, coffee, and cocoa.

Richards : Tonics and stimulants. (Health Educational League. Booklet no. 11.)

Olsen: Pure food. Pp. 106-116.

Whymper : Cocoa and chocolate.