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How Do You Define Raw Chocolate?

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I get lots of requests for raw cocoa beans or products, see lots of raw claims, and continue to wonder what the *&@* raw is…you probably do too. I’ve read that foods remain raw if the food has not been heated over 118°F, or 114°F. Supposedly this protects any naturally occurring enzymes as well as the nutritional value of the food. When it comes to chocolate, lower processing temperatures help preserve flavanoids and anti-oxidants. But to make even some of the most rudimentary chocolate products such as cocoa powder or butter, or even nibs, temperatures can and often do easily exceed these numbers.

Almost all cocoa beans, fermented or not, have probably been subject to temperatures over 114F. Have you ever tried laying out on a cement patio or roadside in the tropical sun? It gets pretty hot, and that pavement gets even hotter. Cement is the standard floor for most drying patios, and the sun is the standard heat source. As well, anyone who claims they are overseeing the entire fermentation and harvesting process on the ground, or claims to have a supplier that does so and and clearly and regularly document the conditions of the beans is taking advantage of your naiveté.

I haven’t found any organization or person out there with bona fide credentials and qualifications, as well as recognized credibilty, who can tell us what raw is. Have you?

What I have found are numerous claims, some more ambiguous than others, about what raw is. Peruse these selections below:

  • It’s our love for living food that keeps our chocolates free from added sugar, dairy and artificial ingredients, and guides our gentle processing techniques – we never use temperatures above 42 C (114F) – which means that the nutritional goodness of cacao and all the other ingredients reaches you unspoiled by cooking. Retrieved http://www.therawchocolatecompany.com/allan_html_pages_new/why_is_our_organic_choc.htm September 15, 2012
  • Why Raw? Good question. What it’s all about is essentially keeping more of the original nutritional benefits of the raw cacao bean in these chocolate bars as possible. So, in normal chocolate processing, there are stages such as roasting where the antioxidants and nutritients are reduced as they are heat sensitive. Raw chocolate attempts to process the cocoa more gently thereby keeping more benefits intact in the final product. The products in this unique shop continue the trend toward a healthier chocolate with the inclusion of ingredients such as probiotics and fruits, as well as the exclusion of unhealthy stuff such as refined sugar. We also have snack bars, pies and truffles for an alternative way to enjoy raw chocolate. Retrieved from http://www.therawchocolateshop.com/, September 15, 2012.
  • Raw chocolate is a carefully chaotic celebration of life! Cunningly absent of sugar, dairy and additives, its the highest antioxidant food source we know. All the ingredients are in their natural state – crafted at low temperatures to keep the flavor, nutrients and vitality of this celebrated food alive and buzzing.Retried from: http://www.fineandraw.com/raw, September 15, 2012.

I haven’t heard anyone claim they’re using unfermented, truly raw beans-probably no one is because they’re nearly unpalatable and inedible-hard to find as well. If they are using fermented beans, it’s very likely that the beans have been raised to temperatures over 114F, either during fermentation or drying. So just what is raw? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


How Cocoa Beans Are Made Into Chocolate

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

The journey the cacao bean makes, from the tree all the way to the chocolate bar on the store shelf, is a long one. But you'll have a basic understanding of what happens after you've read this post. To make chocolate, you need cacao beans, sugar, and the right equipment.Cacao beans are first harvest from [...]

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What is Raw Chocolate?

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Raw food products have gained a popular following among consumers and the market for raw products seems to be expanding. But there is very little clarity or definition in what is considered raw, and that goes for chocolate too. Raw really has not been defined clearly, there is no officially recognized industry organization putting a [...]

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What Are Cacao Nibs?

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Most people know what chocolate is-at least they know what chocolate tastes like, that it usually comes in a bar, and is considered a sweet treat in most cases. Chocolate is usually consumed by itself or in a dessert combined with ingredients to make cakes, cookies, brownies, or even some fruit desserts. Chocolate is also [...]

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How to Hold a Chocolate Tasting Party

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

After spending seven years in Ecuador making chocolate, exporting chocolate, teaching about chocolate, leading chocolate tours to cocoa plantations and factories for consumers and industry professionals, I want to share some of that knowledge with you.  Living in Ecuador was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, but I was happy to [...]

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Where do Cacao Trees Grow?

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Where do cacao trees grow? Cacao, also known as Theobroma Cacao, is a tropical plant. The growing area for cacao ranges from approximately 10° north to 10° south of the Equator. Most cacao is grown in Africa but cacao is now also cultivated in a tropical belt worldwide. The Ivory Coast and Ghana are the [...]

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Cacao and San Marzano Tomatoes

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Say you have a fine flavor, single origin cacao which is as highly recognized as San Marzano tomatoes. The Chuao bean from Venezuela immediately comes to mind.San Marzano tomatoes have a protected denomination or origin (Denominazione Origine Protetta in Italian) - cacao does not. Stringent crtieria are enforced by the government to maintain the integrity [...]

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What is Direct Trade?

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Many artisan chocolatiers, and even some larger chocolate companies, claim they operate on a "direct trade" model. Direct Trade is a term coined in the last 5 to 10 years, first by the coffee industry, and now used widely in both the coffee and cacao business. To date, there is no certifying body or organization [...]

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FAQ-Can I Grow A Cacao Tree From Your Beans?

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Please watch this short video on why you can't grow a cacao tree from cocoa beans.

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5 Great Uses For Cocoa Pods

22nd May 2017     Leave a comment

Our cocoa pods are great decorative items for home or store. Our whole pods are our most popular item but empty pods have a huge number of uses. You can do a whole lot more with them than just put them out on display or sell them to customers. Here are a five great ways [...]

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