Cocoa breeders invent fermentation technology to enhance fruity taste in chocolate

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Eskes said his fermentation technology can turn bulk cocoa into fine cocoa. Pic: Pakeha
Eskes said his fermentation technology can turn bulk cocoa into fine cocoa. Pic: Pakeha
Albertus Eskes and Dario Ahnert, cocoa breeders from agriculture research firm CIRAD and UESC has invented a fermentation technology called TropMix to help cocoa beans enhance its natural fruity flavors.

Eskes said he was driven to develop the new technology because he was dissatisfied with bulk cocoa's resulting “acidity, bitterness and stringency”​ from the fermentation process.

Fine cocoa, which is usually made from single-origin beans, expresses more fruity, spicy or floral aromas, he added. However, “many of them become ‘bulk’ through the way they are fermented and processed into chocolate.

“This [new] technology has proved to transform any bulk cocoa variety into a fine cocoa variety,”​ said Eskes.

Mass production of fine cocoa

TropMix enables the mass production of fine cocoa in any country where there are sufficient cocoa trees of a singular aromatic type to produce large quantities of beans, he said.

“As far as I know, the country that has the largest potential is Brazil, where I have so far identified 10 flavors and aromas in disease resistant cocoa varieties that are grown in large scale – 10 to 20 thousand hectares each,”​ Eskes told ConfectioneryNews.

“I have used my process to demonstrate the natural flavor of some local beans, including the wild Amelonado cocoa that has a jasmine flavor,”​ he said.

What about those countries where single-flavored beans are not sufficient?

Eskes said TropMix also allows chocolate producers to add extra aromatics to bulk cocoa to enhance its taste.

Fine cocoa is not equivalent to single origin

Eskes suggested that TropMix will allow manufacturers to produce chocolate made with beans from all over the world, but label their products with a unique flavor. 

“As far as I’m concerned, the labeling is a secondary aspect of fine chocolate production,”​ he said. “The most important thing is the content of the wrap. There is always a possibility to use fancy names for the brand… the consumer will learn it is not always necessary for fine cocoa to be single-origin.

“Brands produced by TropMix need to disclose the content of the chocolate,”​ he said.

The technology is growing in popularity, according to Eskes. The French premium chocolate company Valrhona, for example, has used TropMix to launch three brands over the last two years. 

He is currently adapting the fermentation technology for larger scale production.

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1 comment


Posted by Jamie,

Great article! I loooove cocoa. Anyone interested in this stuff should definitely check out the book Everyday Roots. It teaches you how to replace all the toxic chemicals in your life with healthy organic alternatives. Its completely changed my life and how I feel everyday! :)

Heres a great review of everday roots:

Keep up the great content!

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