How Exactly Is Chocolate Made?

Some research has stated that chocolate is over 2,000 years old. However, recent studies claim it is even older than that. You have eaten a piece or two of chocolate in your life. While this is probably the case – do you know how it’s made?

Even though people worldwide enjoy this treat (especially in Switzerland), most don’t know the process it takes to make it. 

How does it go from the cacao bean to the delicious, rich, and creamy treat you can buy at any grocery or convenience store? 

Are you ready to learn more? Keep reading to find out how chocolate is made into your favorite treats. 

Related: History of Peanut Brittle 

A Step-by-Step Overview of How Chocolate Is Made

chocolates and other sweets on display

Are you ready to learn more about how chocolate is made? If so, you are in the right place. Here is a step-by-step overview of the making of chocolate

Cacao Cultivation 

Cultivating cacao is a process that takes years

To make one cacao tree seedling using fresh beans, one to three beans are taken from a fresh, new pod that is under five days old and placed in hot water for germination. After a root forms, the seeds are placed in nutrient-rich soil, with the root side down. The top is lightly covered with soil. 

A few weeks after this, a small tree will grow with the white or purple bean turning brown and cracked all over. Cacao must be grown in a wet, warm climate and only grows naturally within 20 degrees of the equator (there are a few exceptions to this). 

Harvesting Cacao 

You will know your cacao pods are ripe and ready for harvesting when they turn a bright orange/yellow color. They will hang down from the trunk and biggest branches. The pods themselves are attached with smaller stems. Usually, ripe pods are harvested two times a year; however, they can be harvested when ripe. 

Once the pods are harvested, they are opened, and the seeds removed. The seeds are large, about the size of an olive

Cacao Fermentation 

The beans are cleaned by hand, leaving the pulp or baba on the outside to help develop the flavor. When exposed to light, the cream-colored beans will start to turn a purple shade

Once this is done, the fermentation will be done in one of two ways:

  • Heap method: Popular in Africa, this method involves the beans being put in piles on the ground. 
  • Cascading boxes: In Latin America, cascading boxes are a favored method. 

With both these methods, the beans are covered using banana leaves. Fermentation lasts for two to nine days; the beans will start to turn colors and develop some of the “chocolate” flavors you are familiar with. 

Drying and Shipping

Once fermenting is done, the beans must be dried carefully. They will be put on bamboo mats or wooden boards for seven to 14 days in the hot sun. They are also turned and raked to ensure even drying

After fully dried, beans are graded, put into sacks, and quality checked. At this point, they will be shipped. 

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After the person who ordered the beans receives them, they sort the beans to remove insects, dirt, rocks, and anything else mixed in. Any broken and cracked beans are removed, too. Depending on the shipment, the beans are sometimes sorted by size

Related: Handmade Candy with Soul


After being cleaned and sorted, the beans are roasted. This must be done carefully since the length and temperature of the roast impact the flavors in the final product. During roasting, the chemical composition of the beans changes, and the “chocolatey” flavor is developed. 

The Final Steps 

chocolate mold filled with dark chocolate

The final steps of the chocolate-making process include:

  • Cracking and winnowing: The thin outer husks are removed, and the beans are broken into nibs. 
  • Grinding: The nibs are ground to create a smooth texture using metal or stone grinders. 
  • Refining/Conching: This is when the mixture is pulverized and made even smaller. It emulsifies the solids and cocoa butter, softening the flavor and smoothing the texture. 
  • Tempering: Tempering is done to stabilize the chocolate’s fat molecules. It is a process that involves heating and cooling the chocolate. 

The last step is molding and packaging the chocolate for sale. Today, you can find all types of flavors to choose from, created in the process above. Because of this, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy chocolate

Common Types of Chocolate 

When it comes to types of chocolate, there are more than a few kinds to choose from. Some top picks include:

  • White chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bittersweet chocolate
  • Cocoa powder

Because of how much people love chocolate, specialty chocolate makers have made other types of chocolate too. For example, you can now find keto chocolate options,, gluten-free chocolate, dairy-free options, etc. 

Exploring the Delicious World of Chocolate 

Sweetsmith offers a variety of different chocoloates

As you can see from the information here, making chocolate is labor-intensive. While the delicious candy you enjoy may seem pretty simple, a lot goes into the process, from tree to store shelf. With this information, you should have a much better appreciation for chocolate, what is available, and the process chocolate makers go through to offer you these amazing treats

Chocolate is a decadent treat enjoyed by people of all ages worldwide. Now, it’s time to try some of the more exotic and exciting flavors and options available. 

Are you ready to explore all the amazing flavors and options available today? If so, shop our product line at Sweet Smith Candy Co. 

Related: Is Sugar-Free Candy the New Normal?

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