The first stage of my home chocolate production (after sourcing already-fermented beans) is roasting.
At La Iguana Chocolate, they roast their cacao beans in a pot over a fire and stir constantly for 10 to 20 minutes until they hear the beans "pop". I asked Jorge (the eldest son of the family) how I should roast the beans at home. I asked if I should use a frying pan and wait for the "pop" and he replied...
"yes, do add a little of water just to wet the bean no make a sopa OK, good luck".
Following Jorge's advice, I added a splash of water to the beans in the frying pan and turned the heat up high, stirring constantly. Once I started to hear the loud "pops", I turned the heat off and continued stirring the beans until the popping stopped (one has to be careful; they can move when they pop so it might be an idea to use a splash guard). The aroma that came from the beans was extraordinary! The whole house smelt of brownies. I went out and came back a few hours later and the whole house still smelt of brownies; it was incredible! I definitely recommend roasting a few cocoa beans before a house viewing instead of baking bread. I'm sure it will be much more effective!
recently attended the Food And Drink Expo in Birmingham and met Willie
Harcout-Cooze from Willie's Cacao. I spoke to him about roasting and he
said that I should not do it in a frying pan because the beans should not be exposed to direct heat. He recommended that I roast them in an oven on a
baking tray with some baking paper. However, at this point I had already
roasted most of my beans using Jorge's method. I will definitely try
roasting the beans in the oven next time!