Bensdorp cocoa process
It all starts with processing the beans at home
The Cocoa Journey
1. Blending premium cocoa beans exclusively
The secret to exceptional flavor
Bensdorp exclusively works with the best beans found on the West African market for its signature cocoa powders. Their quality and level of fermentation are exceptional, which translates into an outstanding flavor.
The secret to the consistent color, taste and quality of our powder recipes is a well-balanced blend of three specific West African cocoa beans:
- Ghanaian cocoa beans possess a distinct chocolate flavor.
- Cameroonian cocoa beans have amazing color properties.
- And cocoa beans from Côte d’Ivoire have a robustness that brings the right raw cocoa intensity to the blend.
2. Traditional 19th century Dutching
The mysterious alchemy that turns cocoa nibs into perfection
After cleaning, breaking and deshelling the beans, only the purest of cocoa nibs remain. Those can either be Dutched or roasted directly (natural process). Bensdorp still Dutches its nibs according to the authentic 19th century method. Of course, our state-of-the-art equipment differs greatly from the machinery used in the 19th century, but the process essentially has not changed. Only by using the traditional method and Dutching the cocoa nibs directly can the perfect result be achieved. The traditional way takes a bit more time. But it is well worth the wait.
Basically, the Dutching process consists of treating cocoa nibs with an alkali solution (potassium or sodium carbonate). This allows us to improve the color, flavor and solubility in hot applications of cocoa powder so it fits your food application perfectly.
3. Small-batch roasting
The key to preserving the original cocoa flavor
All steps so far - from sourcing the cocoa beans, over the fermentation and drying process in their countries of origin, to Dutching the cocoa nibs - have been really important flavor and color precursors. But this is where the magic really happens. Roasting the cocoa nibs releases the intense chocolate flavor and all the characteristic aromas and colors that lie hidden deeply in their core. When done correctly, it is the key to an explosion of heavenly flavors.
We choose to roast the cocoa nibs directly instead of roasting them in their shells. This helps release all colors and flavors a lot better. And thanks to our batch roasting system we keep a tight rein on the quality of the roasting process, with cocoa experts monitoring every step.
Depending on the type of cocoa, Bensdorp applies low or high roasting. We roast our single origin cocoa at just the right temperature. We make sure all bacteria are killed, while preserving the original fruity flavors of the cocoa species and the typical characteristics of the particular region it comes from. On the other hand, our West African beans are subjected to high-temperature roasting to enhance their robust chocolate flavor and remove the moisture left from the Dutching process.
4. The finessence of cocoa
Meeting the first standards in cocoa powder fineness
During a multi-stage grinding process the roasted nibs are transformed into cocoa liquor, which consists of a liquid mix of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The standards our cocoa liquors have to meet are among the highest in the industry and their levels of fineness are a lot higher than the ones applied in the chocolate industry.
5. Four signature cocoa liquors
The foundations for a vast array of cocoa powders
After the cocoa nibs are ground into cocoa liquor, a second blending process follows. Bensdorp has four signature cocoa liquors, which are blended together according to meticulously measured recipes to form the basis of your tailor-made Bensdorp cocoa powder:
- Natural/non-Dutched cocoa liquor
- Lightly Dutched cocoa liquor
- Highly Dutched cocoa liquor
- Deep Dutch processed cocoa liquor
All four cocoa liquors have specific color, flavor and wettability characteristics that, when blended together, work together in symphony to bring the wonderful world of chocolate taste, color and texture into your product.
6. Obtaining the perfect cocoa powder
Meticulously separating the cocoa cakes from the cocoa butter
Hydraulic presses apply high pressure (up to 450 kg/cm2) to compress the cocoa liquor blend, separating the batch into cocoa butter and cocoa cakes. Depending on the pressing time and process parameters, the resulting cakes have a fat content ranging between 10 and 24%. Of course, high-fat cocoa powders require more moderate pressing in order to leave in as much cocoa butter as possible.
During this stage both the quality of the cocoa beans and the quality of roasting play an important role. Well-roasted high-quality beans allow optimal pressing, without affecting the flavor during the process.
7. Achieving the world’s finest cocoa
Bringing chocolate taste, color and texture where chocolate cannot go
At this point, powder grinding lines pulverize the cocoa cakes into a variety of powders with predefined levels of fineness. But this is where Bensdorp cocoa powders really differentiate from the rest. Thanks to our innovative 3-step refinement process Bensdorp is able to produce the world’s finest cocoa. With an average fineness of 99,8% on 75µm/200 mesh sieve, our cocoa powders are able to bring the delicious chocolate flavor, color and mouthfeel where chocolate cannot go. It takes a bit longer to refine cocoa powder at this level. But the possibilities the world’s finest cocoa offers you are endless.
The final crucial step in realizing a premium quality cocoa powder with long shelf life
Cooling causes the fat present in the cocoa powder to crystallize into the right form, which preserves the powder’s taste, and prevents discoloring and lumping during storage. Thanks to the special care with which we tend to our “tempered" cocoa powder, a deliciously fresh and pure cocoa fragrance permeates the entire room when you open a bag of Bensdorp. It has become synonymous with the unparalleled freshness of our cocoa powders.