• cocoa fermentation;
  • Thebroma cacao;
  • chocolate flavor;
  • vicilins;
  • fermentation index



During traditional cocoa processing, the end of fermentation is empirically determined by the workers; consequently, a high variability on the quality of fermented cocoa beans is observed. Some physicochemical properties (such as fermentation index) have been used to measure the degree of fermentation and changes in quality, but only after the fermentation process has concluded, using dried cocoa beans. This would suggest that it is necessary to establish a relationship between the chemical changes inside the cocoa bean and the fermentation conditions during the fermentation in order to standardize the process.


Cocoa beans were traditionally fermented inside wooden boxes, sampled every 24 h and analyzed to evaluate fermentation changes in complete bean, cotyledon and dried beans. The value of the fermentation index suggested as the minimal adequate (≥1) was observed at 72 h in all bean parts analyzed. At this time, values of pH, spectral absorption, total protein hydrolysis and vicilin-class globulins of fermented beans suggested that they were well fermented.


Since no difference was found between the types of samples, the pH value could be used as a first indicator of the end of the fermentation and confirmed by evaluation of the fermentation index using undried samples, during the process. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry