We are delighted to be stocking a new range of RAW cacao products and we are really happy to have found a new supplier who goes to great lengths to offer assurance that their cacao products are truely RAW. There is no certification of a food's raw status (unlike organic) so in this blog you can find out more about how our new supplier ensures that these cacao products remain under 40°C throughout the whole manufacture process. So the big question is - why is RAW so important? Keeping the cacao bean under 40°C ensures that ALL the 300 phyto-nutrients in cacao remain intact, and are not partially destroyed during the heat treatment of manufacture. Cacao contains volatile fatty acids and phyto-nutrients that give it its superfood properties when they are available. The Mayans didn't call it Food of the Gods for nothing.
We will continue to keep our existing range of Cacao products on sale as we understand that some of our customers are very happy with these products which are quite frankly a bit cheaper. However understandably the cost of manufacture does go up when care is taken to ensure low temperatures remain at all times and this is reflected in the price of the new raw cacao range.
The Story of How Our Raw Cacao Products Are Manufactured
For many millennia cacao grew in the understory of the tropical rainforest in the Amazon Basin, cacao has been the centre of the culinary world for hundreds of years. But it is only recently with the development of the super food industry that we are beginning to revalue what was for the Incas and Aztecs so important, cacao’s nutritional content. The problem with what we have been doing in the past centuries, is that cacao grains were intensively fermented and then toasted, however the true value of cacao - it's nutritional content was destroyed.
Unfortunately there is no certification given to real raw cacao products, and whilst many of the cacao products on the market are not as processed and heat treated as traditional cocoa, there is no evidence to say that they are "raw". To ensure that the nutritional content of cacao is preserved and available the grains must remain under 40°C and all times right through from manufacture to the preparation of raw chocolate. We are delighted to be partnering with the Peruvian cacao manufacture Villa Adina and we are satisfied that there process yields a truely raw product.
Our manufacture partner Villa Adina is changing things around by employing top-of-the-line technology, they have designed and tailored their production line from which they obtain truly raw cacao nibs, raw cacao paste, raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder. It all begins in the northern highlands of Peru in the Cajamarca, Amazonas and San Martin cacao valleys close to the Villa Adina processing plant where farmers nurture the Theobroma cacao trees, they have partnered with the most caring farmers that work with native varieties of cacao, strictly following organic regulations and processing their raw cacao in a better way to preserve its nutritional content.
Once the Cacao has been removed from its pod it is subjected to the two first stages of the process - fermentation and sun drying. The traditional cocoa industry requires a grain with a high fermentation index of up to 90%, to achieve this during the fermentation process the temperatures tend to rise above 50°C. However, Villa Adina uses cacao with a low fermentation index and they strictly monitor temperatures during this process to make sure they never go over 40°C. After fermentation the cacao is sun-dried until it reaches a humidity of 7%. Once the cacao arrives at the processing facility a sample is taken from each bag and analysed in an international laboratory. Villa Adina’s cacao processing plant is BRC certified and has European machinery and a Safe line Mettier Toledo metal detector, which ensures they produce only top-quality products.
At the processing facility the cacao is first washed and then machine dried at low temperatures until the grain reaches 3% humidity, this is Villa Adina's first cacao product - cacao beans.
Then they put the grains into a vacuum chopper that splits the grain and removes the cacao skin, the machine sorts the grains by size keeping the bigger sized ones for raw cacao nibs, which is Villa Adina's second product.
The smaller raw cacao nibs are then moved into a milling process, the raw cacao nibs are converted into raw cacao paste. The cacao is closely monitored, and this mill has a custom designed cooling system governed by a PLC that cools down the paste if temperatures increase over 40°C. After milling the cacao paste is kept in a storage tank with a programmable temperature control set to 40°C, the raw cacao paste is then put in moulds and packed, this is Villa Adina's third cacao product.
Next the raw cacao paste is pressed, and raw cacao butter and a cake of raw cacao powder are obtained, pressing is the most critical and temperature vulnerable process as high pressure implies high temperatures. Instead of using one big press Villa Adina have a battery of several small presses specially sized to work at low pressure. They have additionally installed a thermocouple that allows them to monitor temperature inside the press and always guarantee that it remains below 40°C. From the press raw cacao butter is obtained which is put into moulds and packed and finally from the top of the press a cake is obtained which is then milled into raw cacao powder. These are Villa Adina’s forth and fifth raw cacao products.
Villa Adina always take pride in processing premium quality products that comply with international food standards. Their raw cacao products represent their commitment to creating a healthier and more responsible world.