What I have accomplished so far !

I temporarily stopped writing to focus on something. The bean to bar chocolate business, or simply, the tabliya business. Well, I guess, focus is not my game so here I am again writing.

What I did accomplished during the stop? Here are they!

A changed of raw material. I am now getting cacoa from a foundation. I discovered the cocoa I had been using for years were actually rejects. Chinese men are buying reject cacao beans from farms and reselling them in Manila for a large profit.

The new beans have darker complexion, smells like a mixture of wine and vinegar. Others are saying the odor is somewhat foul but I find it awesome. It taste less bitter and much closer to chocolate flavor.

A changed of winnower. Manual winnowing outside the house is unsanitary. I managed building my very own winnower using PVC pipes, 5 gallon bucket, a cone marker and a Shop-Vac. My project is on its third iteration. Planning to attached a cracker to it to make the work faster.

Bean sorting. I never did this before as it was taking a lot of time. However, it is necessary to keep the business going and growing. Separating the beans to small, medium and large and roasting them separately. Of course, there is a fourth category called rejects. It resulted to more even roast and tastier product.

Oven roasting. Pan roasting was a thing of the past and I will never go back to it again. I am just beginning with bean roasting using oven but I already seen a big promise. Even roast with no burns and raws. I am taking slowly and waiting for consumer feedback.

Building a bean cracker. The manual operated corn mill was producing a lot of fine powder that seemed lower the cocoa nib output. I build a roller mill and managed to brought up the yield from the average of 66% to 80 to 87%. Sounds good but it takes a considerable amount of time. Breaking, sifting out unbroken nibs, re-cracking and then winnowing. The actual winnowing usually fast. If I can somehow improved the roller mill, then, the whole winnowing process will be done in a jiffy.

Colloid mill as cocoa grinder. Few modifications allowed me to successfully use the colloid mill to liquefy the nibs. The texture is very acceptable as compared to my previous machine. Acquiring a melangeur will be next step to obtaining a silky smooth finish.

I am now learning to properly temper chocolate. Product appearance is one of the main selling point. It will be very pleasing to the eye when the chocolate surface is shiny without any spec of fat bloom.

The Peanut Butters

peanut butter spread on breadWhich do you like?

There are rather hard and dry. You almost see no oil separating to top. It is getting harder and harder to get as you dig deeper. It is also harder to spread and feels dry in mouth. My assessment! This could be less grease or added with filler like cornstarch or wheat flour. If there is really no sign of oil separating to top, then some kind of emulsifier is mixed during the process, skim milk perhaps.

Fluid. If you are fan of the above described product, then, fluid kind might not be your type. It is probably due to two reasons. It is either no filler is mixed or too much oil is added. This has the advantage of creamier texture but expect a faster clear oil formation.

Chunky. It contains whole roasted peanut inside. It feels like crackers within a bread. Rather, a crackling in spread if you are eating the product as is. I prefer this as I enjoy the cracking sound. Whole roasted peanuts have the tendency to float so stirring it a bit before use is advised.

Chocopeanut. A friend of mind tried making this by mixing peanuts and cocoa nibs. The lowest possible proportion of nibs with acceptable chocolate flavor hardened the end product. He did not try using cocoa powder which I think is more suitable.

For the masses. The affordable which cost more or less twenty pesos and available in many sari-sari stores. Usually sweet, rough textured, visible peanut skins and some tiny bubbles. Often unlabeled and you never know who to go after in case of food poisoning.

If you are looking for all natural and unsweetened product. There is no other place to look at except for vegetarian shop. Just keep in mind that oil separation is a natural phenomenon and you can always stir it before use. Do not consume on the slightest sign of rancidity.

The DIY Cocoa Winnower

After careful roasting, the next essential part of chocolate making is the winnowing process. The cacao should be cracked and blown with air to separate the husk off. The old fashioned way of doing this is placing it in bilao (round shallow bamboo tray). Then flipping the tray repeatedly hoping there is enough wind to throw away the lighter husk. A long laborious process that open result to a low recovery and poorly winnowed product.

The use of electric fan makes the process a bit faster with better result. However, look around you after and you’ll see a messy surrounding. Another thing is, regulatory authorities won’t be happy with what you are doing. Food preparations should be done inside a clean room, not outside where there could be many sources of contamination.

Well, what I just did solved the problem I have just mentioned. Instead of blowing away the lighter cocoa husk, it could be done in cleaner manner with the use of vacuum. A vacuum cleaner that is set for use only for cocoa winnowing and not for other cleaning purposes, like cleaning the floor, garage and car.

It is thanks to Chocolate Alchemy and Chocolate Life  which posted the diy and yet low cost winnower.


1) A vacuum cleaner. Most of the builds they posted used Shop-Vac, so I used that brand too. I seems a popular and reliable brand. I bought the model with 1300 watts power.

2) Various PVC pipe connectors. I was really eying for white pipes but it is not available locally. Blue pipes – the water pipes, are available but the 3″ specifications is not available locally either. I will switch to white pipes once I discovered where to get it.

3) Five gallon white pail. It is a sturdy food grade pail. The pail I bought was a margarine container so I am pretty sure it is food grade. The ordinary black pail from nearby market is fine and in fact it was that I used for my first test.

white margarine pail and neltex pipesHow to build:

Please go to the original authors site for build instructions. What they posted there are easy enough for you to follow. I don’t think repetitive instructions are necessary.

Full working photo coming up as soon I finished working with the revised prototype.

The Occurrence of White Cocoa Beans

It was not the first time I saw a yellow cocoa nib. However, it was the first time I got interested. It was different from the rest as its color is pale yellow and its taste is not somewhere near to regular nibs. It is not bitter at all.

roasted white cocoa nibs beans

The occurrence is rare. It seems like a missing gold in a beach. You see it when you least expected. Perhaps it was an abnormality. If it was not, then, a white chocolate could be more real. Remember, commercial white chocolates are technically not chocolates as it contain no cocoa solids.

Some readings.

Seeds are fairly soft and white to a pale lavender color. They become violet or reddish brown during the drying process. The exception is rare varieties of white cacao, in which the seeds remain white. Historically, white cacao was cultivated by the Rama people of Nicaragua.(wiki)

Some of the beans are white, not the usual purple. Those from the Marañón Canyon are about 40 percent white.

White beans have fewer bitter anthocyanins, produce a more mellow-tasting, less acidic chocolate. They are mutations that happen when trees are left undisturbed for hundreds of years. According to Dr. Meinhardt. Telling which pod and which seed will have white color is impossible (Mr. Pearson).

Chocolate made from 100 percent white beans is extremely expensive. It is not related to commercial white chocolates. (nytimes.com)

Dissolving Tabliya in Plain Hot Water

Every tabliya lover have different way of preparing their drink. The following are my very own ways.

1) Place one tabliya, about ten grams tablet, in a casserole and add two glasses of water. Bring to a very slow boil. Then let boiling continue for at least one hour. Keep the vessel covered to avoid too much moisture loss. Take out of fire and serve hot with little sugar.

2) Place one tabliya, about ten grams, in casserole and bring to rolling boil. While hot, transfer to Osterizer. Add half teaspoon carrageenan powder, the likes of Mr. Gulaman will do. Blend until foamy. Serve hot.

Carrageenan is emulsifier. It has the ability to hold water and oil together, preventing its separation and maintaining the formed bubbles.

Method two preparation time is short and method one is long. You might be thinking it is too long. Five to ten minutes rolling boil for many drinkers is enough. Too long boiling time is just a waste of time and energy.

Well, it is just a matter of preference. A friend of mine is preparing his tabliya drink for two hours, adding several herbs and flavors. Bringing to slow boiling, adding water whenever it is drying up and waiting for two hours when the mouth watering cocoa aroma has fully accumulated the entire house.

The reverse of too long is too short, and speaking of too short, some tabliya lovers are just placing pressed cocoa tablets in hot water. They are treating tabliya like instant drink (Milo and Ovaltine). They love it and I never know how and why they love it.

Tabliya is made of roasted and ground/liquefied cacao. Let cooled in a molder to give a tablet like appearance. The recommended mode of preparations are the two methods I mentioned above. Just placing it in hot water can be done but not recommended.

To demonstrate:

The three broken tabliya pieces:

three tabliya fragments in cup

Added with hot water. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. The resulting mixture:

undisolved tabliya tablets

The leftover.

tabliya leftover

The taste: It is good but not as good as boiled or blended tabliya. It is not even half close. The numerous undissolved lumps are annoying. The drink looks like water filled with mud.

Extracting Cocoa Butter and Other Oil Processing Methods

The popular oil extraction methods.

The solvent extraction. The oil-rich commodity is bath with hexane, the likes of petroleum ether. It dissolves the commodity oil content. The oil is then purified by boiling the hexane off.

Hexane has low boiling temperature, about 36 to 50°C. Boiling to such temperature range will drive the hexane off and leave the oil behind. The solvent is collected in another chamber and use for repeated extraction.

This method is high yielding and preferred by big commercial processors.

Screw press. Can either be slow speed and temperature regulated or equipped with cooling mechanism to protect sensitive oils. A low yielding method meant for production of higher quality and healthier oil. Or, high speed and heated process. High speed screw press rotation tend to produce heat which aids extraction. If the heat produced is not enough, external heat source is applied.

Press and ferment. As far as my knowledge is concern, this method is only applicable to virgin coconut oil. Grated coconut is pressed to expel out mixture of oil, water and other substances. Then naturally fermented overnight to let oil separate on top.

..press and boil. Instead of boiling, the extracted liquid is boiled to allow evaporation of unnecessary portion. The method yield more but lower quality oil.

The cocoa butter extraction process. Extracted by batch press. Roasted nibs are subjected to milling producing fine textured liquor. Then butter is extracted via batch press while still in liquid state.

Can cocoa butter be extracted by solvent extraction?  I think it can be! Repeatedly bath the roasted nibs in hexane. Then heat the solution to hexane boiling temperature to get purified cocoa butter.

It is possible but likely to have detrimental effects on flavor and safety. Roasting process develops cocoa flavor. Why take a risk by adding harmful and odor offensive hexane? It can be removed by heating but we never know the effect it may cause or whether it is completely removed or not.

Wanna take the risk?