Cocoa beans grow in equatorial countries, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The cocoa bean is technically a seed from the fruit of the cacao tree. At the origin country, the seeds are removed from the fruit or “cocoa pod” and then fermented, dried and packed into sacks for export.

Cocoa beans arrive to Pinellas Chocolate in bags weighing between 125 and 140 pounds each. Prior to the chocolate making process, beans are sorted to remove any debris accumulated during the fermentation and drying process, and to discard out-of-spec beans. What happens next is the bean-to-bar process. The unique combination of Pinellas Chocolate's freshness and flavor is the result of a time-tested process that can't be rushed


Roasting: A slow roast in a convection-style oven takes experience, and a few samples near the end, to know when the beans taste just right.


Winnowing: The center of the cocoa bean, the nib, is the key ingredient for chocolate. Our winnowing machine gently crushes the roasted beans, sending both nib and shell onto a set of vibrating screens, where the fibrous outer shells are removed by vacuum.


Grinding: Before refining, grinding nibs creates a fluid, paste-like form, called cocoa liquor. Our specially designed hammer style mill slowly tears the cell walls of the cocoa nibs, releasing the fat and increasing fluidity of the cocoa liquor.


Refining: The cocoa liquor goes into a stirred ball mill, where cocoa particles achieve a smooth, rich texture. During refining the cocoa is is blended with sugar and other ingredients. The flavor of Pinellas Chocolate is enhanced by the mill’s specially designed product circulation and air flow.


Sifting: The exquisitely smooth mouth-feel of Pinellas Chocolate results from sifting through a fine food grade screen before it is tempered and molded.


Tempering: Pinellas Chocolate achieves its characteristic shine, mouth-feel and “snap” during tempering. By carefully controlling the cooling of the warm, fluid chocolate, the cocoa fat cells crystallize uniformly, for a smooth, shiny appearance and melt-in-your-mouth perfection.


Molding: Perfectly tempered Pinellas Chocolate is molded into bars, then carefully packaged in wraps that capture the beauty of Pinellas County for you to enjoy.