Cocoa-thumbCocoa is a flavoursome powder produced from the cake formed when cocoa butter is expressed from cocoa mass. There are two basic types, dutched and natural, and each is available with fat contents within a range of about 8-32%.

Dutched cocoa is made from roasted and shelled beans which have been chopped, soaked in warm alkali solution, dried and ground to a mass prior to the expression of the excess cocoa butter. This process results in powder with darker and redder colours. The powder is more easily dispersible in water, has a less astringent flavour and, of course, has a greater alkalinity.

It is possible to achieve some very dark or even black cocoas by the alkali treatment. Such cocoas are valuable for colouring biscuit doughs and sandwich creams.

The higher the fat content the more rounded is the flavour of a cocoa but also the higher the price. General purpose manufacturing cocoa, as used in doughs, biscuit creams or as the basis for coatings, has a fat content of between 9 and 12%, or a little higher, but cocoa for use in beverages is richer in fat, usually not less than 22%.

Cocoa powder should be a fine, free flowing powder. It is normally sold with a maximum moisture content of 5%. Higher values may lead to mould growth during storage. Cocoa powder is naturally hygroscopic so should be kept in moisture proof containers.

Should the powder become too warm in storage the cocoa butter will melt and lumping may occur. The apparent colour of cocoa powder is dependent on temperature due to the condition of the fat, warmer cocoa looks darker in colour.

Thus, the storage conditions for cocoa powder should be:

  1. Humidity, less than 50% RH.
  2. Temperatures, even and between 15-18°C, not exceeding 20°C.
  3. Away from strong odours such as species, cheese, ammonia.

Under these conditions cocoa will keep for very long periods (years).