Text for: How Cacao Beans are Dried
We are on the equator high in the beautiful South American Andes of Ecuador to check on our cacao beans which are being sun-dried.
This location puts us in the rain shadow of the mountains at 9500 feet above sea level. This microclimate here is hot and dry with only a few short rain showers that come in from the west during the winter—making this a perfect climate for drying the cacao beans.
The cacao beans are sun-dried off the ground in tents which are open on each end allowing a continual airflow over the beans. The base of the drying bed is a screen which also allows for air circulation.
Each day the tents are opened and the cacao beans are turned to help them dry evenly. The beans are dried to 7% humidity. 7% is a magic number for the humidity—it's sufficiently dry to inhibit the growth of mold but not so dry that the beans become too brittle to transport.
During the cool mountain nights, warm air is brown over the beans until sunrise. The cacao beans will need several days of controlled drying. It's important the beans are not tried too fast or too slow.
Before the cacao beans reach these drying beds, they are all hand selected for quality—flat beans and other defective beans are pulled. The beans that are selected are plump beans even in both size and color.
Now with the beans turned, it's time to close the tents so they can continue drying.
And that's it—thanks for watching!