how to make cocoa powder (from cacao beans)

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how to make cocoa powder from cacao beans

There are all sorts of things that I never really thought I’d make from scratch. Like cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder). Or a daily batch of coconut milk. Or our own coconut flour. And here I am, making all of those things. Oh, Saipan.

how to make cocoa powderI had an inkling that chocolate making was in our future when we stumbled upon cacao pods at the public market. Add in a visit from my parents and a ton of very precise research (aka- hours of watching chocolate making on YouTube) and my back porch was transformed into a small batch chocolaterie. And by chocolaterie, I mostly mean we made cocoa powder and chocolates to eat and share with friends.

Just in case you find a pile of cacao pods and want to make cocoa powder, I took pictures along the way (also because I want to remember how to do this if we attempt it again). Also, you can totally skip the first few steps and use cacao beans- just pick up after the first couple of steps. Let’s make some chocolate, shall we?

how to make cocoa powder from cacao beansFirst, you open all of the cacao pods and remove the cacao beans. Place in a bucket lined with banana leaves and cover. Leave for three days to ferment.

how to make cocoa powder from cacao beansThen, dry the fermented beans in the sun for a few days (are you following this timeline by the way? Yep, we’re a week in at this point).

how to make cocoa powder from cacao beansNext, spread the cacao beans on a cookie sheet and oven roast at 250 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool.

how to make cocoa powder from cacao beansSeparate the cacao nibs from the shells (we tried several different methods- shelling with our fingers, twisting the bean and then shelling, pressing a rolling pin on the beans to crack the shells first- all of those worked).

how to make cocoa powder from cacao beanshow to make cocoa powder from cacao beansGrind the cacao beans. We did a round in the food processor and then small batches in the coffee grinder (we actually ran it through the coffee grinder twice to ensure a find grind).

how to make cocoa powderhow to make cocoa powderCocoa powder (or raw cacao powder, more accurately) = finished! Use this yumminess to mix up a batch of your very own chocolates or  skinny chocolate coconut bites or even homemade hot cocoa (if you don’t live on a tropical island). Seriously, friends- so good. SO much work, but so good!

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  1. Awesome! I want to be your friend! What a process. I was super surprised the first time I saw cacao pods. So not what think of when you think of chocolate. So yummy though.

    1. Cacao pods are totally not what you think of, right??? And yes SO yummy!
      ps- Coconut flour = SO easy (especially if you make a lot of coconut milk since you use the leftover from that!)

  2. I am loving hearing about your culinary adventures so very much! I feel sort of guilty saying that because it sounds like it’s amidst an incredible amount of effort and inconvenience (to say the least). But…amazing, my friend!! And your kiddos: what an amazing shaping experience they are having. Making their own locally-sourced (ha) cocoa powder?! Incredible.

    1. I love seeing your name on here friend!
      And do you know what’s so funny? We are used to the effort and inconvenience. Isn’t that weird? The first few months were a crazy adjustment for me, and then all of the scratch cooking and substituting and general lack of efficiency just felt like normal life again- hahaha. I liken it to the adjustment that happened when we started the dental school budget- WHOA difficult at the beginning and then just normal. Sucky sometimes, but normal. 😉
      Also, I have been so thankful for this season for Burke and Pi. I keep praying that it soaks right into the core of them, you know?
      We’ll be home next month- can’t wait to see you!!!

  3. oH my goodness gracious, girlie! This is so cool!! and I need to apologize!!! I have been remiss in commenting and e-mails. I think of you often in your adventure and pray for you all during this time. What a blessing for all of you to have this opportunity! Homemade coconut milk, coconut flour, and cocoa powder! Talk about so cool. Here in Indiana we are so spoiled by the “conveniences” that I sometimes miss the “inconveniences” of Alaska. Do you know the odd thing? We actually had more variety in produce there then we do here. weird, huh?! I think it is because we don’t live in Indianapolis and folks just aren’t as keen on trying new things. Take care now!!

    1. Peggy, you are too funny! Your prayers mean the world to us- don’t apologize at all!
      And I can totally see missing this way of life- it’s SO different than Denver, and has been so great for us (mostly- haha!). We don’t have much variety in produce- I can only really count on being able to find what is grown on island. But we have all sorts of new favorites, and it’s been really interesting to live in a place where seasonal produce (aka- grown here, this month) is pretty much the only kind you can count on. It’s just so different than being able to find all ingredients at all times. 😉
      Thanks for your sweet comments and especially for your prayers, friend!

  4. Is it really raw cocoa when you roast the beans at 250? I thought that made it normal cocoa? Raw cocoa is supposed to be roasted at 40 degrees celsius I believe? However, I’m pretty lost in the subject….

  5. Awesome!How much does it yield? Like 2 cups of beans equals how much powder? Or 1 lb of beans equals how much?…

    1. Hey Nat, no sugar, we just left it as cocoa. Though, almost every recipe I used it in called for sugar as well. 😉 And if you’re wanting to make hot cocoa, milk and sugar would be necessary for sure! 😉

    1. Haha, Pamela, it was definitely an adventure. And also something we will probably never attempt again (though, mostly because we are back stateside and the likelihood of ‘stumbling’ upon cacao pods has greatly decreased- hahaha). Good luck in your homemade cacao powder quest!

  6. It so interesting when I imagine it, but if am to make chocolates where do I get the ingredients to mix with cocoa powder

    1. Mostly sugar- haha. We also added coconut oil to make the chocolates shown. When I googled ‘make chocolates from cacao’ there were all sorts of recipes that came up. Hope that helps!

  7. Hey it’s an interesting read. currently have some cacao nibs with me and wish to utilise your process to do so 🙂 wanted to ask whether the coffee grinder makes the powder fine enough to mix it and make hot chocolate ? is it the same as cacao powder(fine grind) we get in the market.

    Looking forward to your reply

    1. Hmmmm, I don’t have any left to try it, but I think that it might be fine enough to make hot cocoa (with milk and lots of sugar- haha!). It is definitely not as fine grind as packaged cocoa powder, though. I have heard that a vitamix blender can make the powder very fine, but didn’t have one to try that. If you try it (and make hot chocolate), will you report back and let me know how it went???

  8. thank u for sharing this technique im from the philippines and we have a lot of cocoa alĺ over the place..and we have no technique how to powder the bean..we just melt it by thank very much for this learning experience..

    1. Hey Rey- several of the videos we watched on YouTube were in the Philippines- how fun that there are plenty of cacao pods where you live!

  9. powder is made from roasted cacao and grind it in coffee grinder? so if you want to drink a just need to put a hot water and thats it? thats amazing!! i have a business of mine making tablea. but i am wondering if i can make the tablea into a powder

    1. Hey there! You could totally put the powder in hot water, but it would be quite bitter! To be drinkable you’d probably want to add sugar or sweetener (and maybe milk!). Hope that helps!

  10. Thanks for the lesson.
    My question is this, the cocoa beans contain oil which makes the powder to stick together, so how do you remove the oil.

    Or do we leave it that way?

    1. Hey Kelly! This was AWHILE ago and we only made it once. But I kind of remember it being kind of like paste at one point? The only thing is, I don’t remember at all how we fixed it. Sorry not to be of more help!

  11. I have here roasted cacao beans – after fermenting, it is sun-dried then roasted.
    Can I use this to.make raw cacao powder?

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