We make all of our chocolate at our kitchen in Largo, Florida. We start with high quality cocoa beans and use a proprietary system of equipment that's also made right here in Florida! Here is an overview of the process.
Cleaning and Sorting: We begin by “cleaning” the cocoa beans to remove any debris that may have accumulated during fermentation and drying of the cacao. We'll also remove any beans that don't meet our quality standards.
Roasting: We slow roast our cocoa beans in a convection-style oven. As the roast nears completion, we'll sample the beans to make sure we've reached a desirable flavor, before ending the roast cycle. Once the beans have been cooled, they are ready to winnow.
Winnowing: “Winnowing” refers to the separation of the cocoa nib (the center of the cocoa bean, and the key ingredient for chocolate) from the fibrous outer husk. Our winnowing machine gently crushes the roasted beans, sending both nib and shell onto a set of vibrating screens, where the shells are removed by vacuum.
Grinding: Before refining, we pre-grind the cocoa nibs into a fluid, paste-like form, referred to as “cocoa liquor”. We use a specially designed hammer style mill for this step of the process. As grinding progresses, the cells of the cocoa nibs are torn, releasing the fat and increasing fluidity of the cocoa mass.
Refining: We refine the chocolate in a stirred ball mill, to achieve a rich, smooth texture. During refining, the particle size of the cocoa mass decreases and the cocoa is blended with other ingredients such as sugar and cocoa butter. Flavors are enhanced by the specially-designed product circulation and air flow features of our mill.
Sifting: Before the refined chocolate is tempered and molded, we sift it using a fine, food grade screen. Sifting removes unrefined particles and enhances the smooth mouth-feel of the finished product.
Tempering: The tempering process gives chocolate its characteristic shine, mouth-feel and “snap”. During tempering, the warm, fluid chocolate is cooled in a controlled manner. This encourages the cocoa fat cells to crystallize in a uniform structure, for a smooth, shiny appearance and a nice, even melting quality.
Molding: After tempering, we mold the chocolate into bars. We then carefully package our products for you to enjoy! For information on where to find Pinellas Chocolate Company, please write us.