Cocoa Alkalization

Alkalisierung von Kakao

Most consumers are familiar with different types of cocoa powder. On the one hand, there is pure cocoa powder without added sugar. This can be strongly or weakly deoiled. Highly deoiled cocoa powder has a lower fat content, a round, mild taste and is slightly more soluble in liquids. Weakly deoiled cocoa powder, on the other hand, has more fat and is less soluble, but also somewhat more intense in terms of flavor. The latter is therefore preferred for baking. Both types are usually relatively dark.

And then there is cocoa powder, which we also know as "Kaba". Strictly speaking, it is not cocoa powder at all, but a mixture of it with usually large amounts of sugar and other ingredients such as flavorings or emulsifiers. This kaba powder is ideally suited for all kinds of chocolate drinks and is relatively light in color due to the mixture.

But how is it that our cocoa powder from fairafric is also so light - even though it is a pure product without sugar or other additives?

To find out, we first have to take a look at the production process.

How is cocoa powder produced in the first place?

To produce cocoa powder, we need cocoa beans, of course. After harvesting, these are fermented, roasted and crushed. This is how the so-called cocoa nibs are produced. In the next step, these are ground, which causes the cocoa butter to escape and form a homogeneous cocoa mass. Anyone who has ever made nut puree can imagine the process very well. The longer you grind, the more fat comes out and the creamier the mass obtained. To obtain a powder, the mass is pressed and the fatty components flow off in the form of cocoa butter. What remains is a so-called press cake, consisting of the pure cocoa powder.

At least, this is how cocoa powder is produced here in Ghana. However, most large chocolate companies and cocoa manufacturers add another step, the so-called alkalization.

Alkalization - what is it?

This specific process in cocoa processing was invented in the 19th century by the Dutchman Coenraad van Houten and is therefore also called "Dutching" or "Dutch Process". This is a chemical process in which the cocoa curd or cocoa liquor is treated with alkaline solutions of, for example, potassium or sodium carbonate before pressing. These neutralize the acidity of the cocoa and thus soften the naturally somewhat bitter taste of the cocoa powder. In addition, the process improves solubility and - so there you have it - results in a darker coloration of the cocoa powder.
The alkalization of cocoa led to divided opinions even in the days of its inventor. Some found the process very beneficial, while others insisted that cocoa was only truly genuine without additives. The British chocolate company Cadbury, for example, advertised more than 100 years ago that it did not add any alkaline substances or other substances to its cocoa and thus "did not deceive the eye.


Today, alkalized cocoa is found in most chocolate bars and other chocolate sweets - including those made by Cadbury. Another well-known example is Oreo cookies, which get their characteristic almost black color from particularly highly alkalized cocoa powder and without any additional coloring.

Why don't we alkalize our cocoa?

Better solubility, richer color and milder taste - that sounds good at first. Our Managing Director Michael from Ghana also says, "In Ghana, all cocoa processors can do alkalization, Niche Cocoa, Chocomac, Cargill, Barry-Callybaut...It's as popular there as it is in Europe."

Nevertheless, we decided not to alkalize our cocoa, thus keeping our product natural and free of chemicals. Besides, otherwise, you would also have to deodorize the cocoa butter and sell it as such, which is often not that easy, as Michael explains.

Another reason is the health aspect. Cocoa naturally contains a very high level of antioxidants. These help the body to protect itself against free radicals. In addition, minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc are also present in larger quantities in pure cocoa powder. Due to the process of alkalization, the proportion of these substances decreases enormously and thus also the health-promoting effect.


So now we know that the light color of our cocoa powder is not due to any additives, but rather to the omission of them. In addition, we prefer a slightly healthier cocoa over, for example, better solubility. What should be mentioned, however, is that just because our cocoa powder is not alkalized, it is by no means bitter. Because even though a milder taste may result from this process, there are many more components that play into this. From the type of cocoa, to the degree of roasting, to the fat content - all of these factors affect the taste. By the way, our Forastero cocoa is naturally one of the mildest cocoas in the world. And if you're not sure which cocoa powder you like best, we advise:

Just try it!