How To Roast Cacao Beans | Craft Chocolate Making

Roasting is the first step in the bean to bar craft chocolate making.

Why should you roast cacao beans? Well simply put, for us to develop the flavour, kill bacteria, reduce the moisture and loosen the outer shell. It is surely a long process to produce chocolate from cocoa beans, and possibly the most important stage would be this - roasting.

There are many ways that you can roast cacao beans and different equipment may be used. If you ask the question “what is the best equipment to use for roasting cacao?” every chocolate maker will give you a different opinion. It depends on what you are trying to achieve, what’s available to you and what you can afford at the moment. No matter the equipment, the basic technique is the same.

1. Using a Pan and a Stove

The simplest way to roast cocoa beans is in a pan on a stove. It’s probably not the most effective or consistent, but is something nearly everyone can do. Start on high heat to kill off the bacteria for 5 minutes and then lower the heat for a further 20-30 minutes or until you are satisfied with the roast.

2. Using a Convection Oven

Oven is a popular way to roast and most kitchens at home would have one. It is also convenient to use for test batches like 1-2kgs of beans. What you do is spread the beans in a single layer on a tray, preferably perforated tray so that the air can flow, and place them in the oven. The beans should be moved around a few times for a more even roast.

3. Using a Drum Roaster

A drum roaster is a cylindrical chamber that rotates horizontally over heat to give all sides of the bean an even roast. There are many types of drum roaster and they come in a range of different sizes, from small table top drums to large industrial machines. They can roast over a gas grill, a heating element or an open fire. 

4. Using a Coffee Roaster

Some chocolate makers use coffee roasters however please note that they need to be modified. Coffee is normally roasted at a much higher heat and so the temperatures will have to be adjusted to suit the different roasting requirement for cacao beans. Drum speed will also have to be modified. One advantage of using coffee roaster is that it can be programmed so that it’s easier to set and repeat the roasting profile you want every time.


So how to know when the beans are roasted?

Here are the factors to consider:

  1. Color of the bean (it should be dark, chocolatey brown all the way through, but not black)
  2. Puffiness of the shell (it should come off easily)
  3. Taste (it should be crunchy, not chewy and should not taste raw or nutlike)
  4. Another good indicator that the beans are getting close to done is when they start popping.
  5. Smells like brownies


Now here are some tips for developing your own roasting profiles:

  1. Know the variety of the beans
  2. Sort and roast the beans according to size
  3. Experiment with different temperatures and timings



Please watch the full video down below to get in full depth about how roasting cacao beans is done.

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