I became accustomed to deshelling and eating unroasted cacao every now and then. It is not like I want it. It is crucial for quality control. I need to familiarize myself with raw bean flavor so I can reject batches that are somewhat different. Inferior to be more specific.
At first, all beans tasted the same. They are all too bitter. No difference at all. As I continue and made it a habit, I began to recognize good tasting beans from bad. There are beans that are extremely astringent and bitter, some are mild and others are notably delicious.
Whenever I encountered good ones, I am saying to myself. If only there is way to flavor select them by eye. There is a way! With the use of machine eye. A high tech and very expensive gadget beyond my reach – NIR Spectroscopy.
How NIR Spectroscopy works? In a very fast phasing, optical device will look at beans one by one. Then ejecting the bad and accepting those that meet flavor specification. I was a bit lucky because my last laboratory work involved this technology.
With good beans at hand, production of raw and virgin chocolate is possible. The makers are saying, why alter the flavor of already good beans. What it needs are series of careful processing operations to preserve original flavor.