Before cacao beans are roasted, they should be sorted to remove unwanted matter that could damage machines later in the process or compromise the final flavor of the chocolate. Larger chocolate manufacturing companies have automated machines to do this process, but we’re old school, and we do it all by hand.
We’ve heard stories about large rocks, railroad spikes and other heavy objects being found in cocoa bean sacks upon delivery. The reason for this is that cocoa is a commodity that is sold by weight, and sometimes it’s easier to meet the weight of a cacao sack by just tossing a rock into it.
Fortunately, this is a problem that we’ve never encountered. To us, this is usually a sign of poor purchasing practices or poor labor conditions for the farmer. If the relationship is good and the farmer is paid proportionately for quality, not just quantity, then the farmer is going to treat the beans with respect so that they can continue to sell their cacao at a higher price.
The most important reason for us to sort our beans is to ensure that only the best cacao makes its way into our chocolate. The potential for great chocolate can be compromised by the presence of unwanted material such as: undeveloped beans, poorly fermented beans, pod parts (placenta and skin), and other non-cacao matter. The logic is simple, if it doesn’t look like a fully developed, healthy, tasty cocao bean, then we don’t want it as part of our ingredients.