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Cheers and sincere appreciation to the active members in this forum for all the information sharing and support.

I'm a chocolate lover and have taken this passion one more step by trying to make bars from beans.

I am currently in the third attempt:

#1: beans got mouldy from natural fermentation after 3 days, I dried it anyway but will not take it much further.

#2: beans were fermented for 4 days, dried, then discovered they were not flavorful possibly from under-fermenting.

#3: this time adding yeast, with temperature control 35-40C, beans are fermenting beautifully with aroma forming, fermented for 8 days, cut test shows moist, dark folds, but about 15% of the beans have sprouted.

Here are my concerns...
Should I toss out the sprouted beans? Is this normal?
I only harvest the ripest pods, they are the sweetest and I assume would make the best chocolate, no beans are sprouted at the time of harvest. Did I harvest the pods too ripe?
Should I raise the fermentation temperature or shorten the duration?

I appreciate any help in producing my first chocolate bar! Thank you.


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Hi Ning,


Are you picking the pods soon after they ripen (when nicking the skin reveals no green underneath) or letting them blacken? The beans shouldn't germinate that easily during fermentation if they haven't started beforehand.


Also try raising the temp to 45° C in the first few days of fermentation, turn every day, and inoculate with aceto and lacto-bacteria from vinegar mothers and live yogurt cultures if possible.


Nat Bletter, PhD
Chocolate R&D
Madre Chocolate

Thank you Nat,

The pods are ripe and not black when picked. The pulps are thick, moist and sweet, not dry. And the beans were not sprouted when I started the fermentation.

I only turned on day 4. I fermented for 7 days. Next batch I will turn every day and raise the temp to 45° C.
I am currently using baker's yeast. I could try live yogurt, but what is the benefit over baker's yeast?

Should I discard the sprouted beans from this batch?


Selamat malam Ning,


live yogurt and vinegar mothers have the live lactobacteria and acetobacteria that are essential for good fermentation in addition to yeast and are totally different from yeast, in a different kingdom of living organisms. Yeast take sugars and turn them into alcohol, while lactobacteria take sugars and turn them to lactic acid and acetobacteria create acetic acid (vinegar). Usually, all these microorganisms can land on the fermenting cacao beans from the air or the outside of the cacao pods, adding to part of the terroir taste of the cacao, but if they are not abundant or your fermentation is not working for other reasons, it's good to add these.


I would throw out the germinated seeds, yes. They can be quite bitter in comparison to the non-germinated seeds as the embryo has started to convert sugars into other compounds it needs to grow.




Nat Bletter, PhD
Chocolate R&D
Madre Chocolate




Lactobacter is fine but I am not sure where I can obtain live acetobacter, or vinega mothers.
Thanks again.





Hope this note finds you well! 


Why are you adding anything to the fermentation? After breaking the ripe pod, you should be putting the beans in a poly bag or wooden box or a pile covered with banana leaves and leave for 2 days, then rotate it each day (another 2-4 days). Next step is sun drying on patio or raised mesh until @ 7.5% humidity. Buy this book, it explains it all:

Cocoa (Tropical Agriculture) [Hardcover]

G. A. R. Wood BA DTA (Author), R. A. Lass B.Sc. DTA (Author)

Sometimes if you're fermenting a small amount the heat of the pile is not enough to keep the temperature up high enough for proper fermentation or there are not the airborne yeast and bacteria in a region to passively inoculate it. Active inoculation can help in both these instances.


We see improper fermentation in Hawaiian cacao all the time as we are straddling the 20° latitude where cacao is normally grown and fermented, so it gets too cool here at night to continue the fermentation except with large commercial batches. Therefore these backup measures of inoculation and added heat are necessary, and it seems like Ning has come up against the same thing.


But I did forget to ask, Ning, how much are you trying to ferment at once?


Nat Bletter, PhD
Chocolate R&D
Madre Chocolate



I realized that I should've asked the same comment is certainly more appropriate for .5 MT and up of wet bean. Thanks for explaining and look forward to seeing where this thread goes...

Thanks Richard and Nat,

I initially tried fermenting without active inoculation but the results were inconsistent. My batches are small (I can count the pods with two hands) but I'm proud to do something with the fruit which would otherwise dry up and wither on the branches.

The next harvest will be bigger as I can see some trees that are laden with fruits, so I'm eager to get this batch right.

I'm at the 7th day of drying, it is raining EVERYDAY since last week and I can hardly get any full days of sunlight between the clouds. When the beans feel light is when I'll stop, perhaps 1 more day...


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