May 8, 2023
Chocolate has long been enjoyed as a delectable treat all around the world. But the process of creating this beloved confectionery is always in motion. From chocolate’s humble beginnings as a manually produced luxury item to the mechanized industry of today, we explore the evolution of chocolate machinery and its impact on production.
Until two hundred years ago, ground cocoa beans had to be dissolved in hot milk or water, resulting in a fatty mixture that would stick to machinery and cause blockages. That meant that chocolate was only consumed as a hot beverage – there were no machines to make solid chocolate efficiently. Everything changed in 1828 when Dutch inventor Coenraad Van Houten introduced a machine for pressing the fat from cacao beans. By separating cocoa solids and cocoa butter, chocolate production became much smoother.
When chocolate was first made, people relied on stone-grinding tools to create cocoa grounds. We slowly moved on to small hydraulic machines where one laborer could make about 10kg of chocolate a day. Finally, in 1879, German engineer Rudolf Sprüngli pioneered a cocoa grinder that could grind cocoa beans into a fine paste. With roller stones to apply pressure and heat, the nibs would turn into a finer paste much faster. From then on, one worker could produce up to 500kg of chocolate paste a day.
A few years after the cocoa grinder was invented, another German engineer, Rodolphe Lindt, created the conch machine. It could grind cocoa beans into much finer particles that could be evenly distributed. This gave chocolate its signature texture and mouthfeel. Together, the cocoa grinder and the conch machine revolutionized the industry, making it possible to produce chocolate on a large scale.
Roasting cocoa beans has always been a crucial step in chocolate production. It kills harmful microorganisms, reduces water content, and removes some bitterness. But it wasn’t until 1912 that French chemist Louis Camille Maillard identified the reaction that occurs while roasting. It’s how amino acids and sugars react in foods via contact with fats. We know it as the browned, flavorful surface on everything from bread and chocolate to toasted marshmallows. The discovery allowed modern manufacturers to control the roasting process and improve the flavor of the chocolate – just as the PTL melter uses temperature control to melt chocolate.
Belgium made significant contributions to chocolate production in the early 20th century. The most important came from Octaaf Callebaut in 1925. He created a mechanism for storing and transporting couverture chocolate in liquid form – a high-quality semi-finished product. From then on, commercial chocolatiers could focus on creating fillings rather than turning cocoa beans into chocolate. It was also easier for other food manufacturers to use chocolate in their products.
The history of chocolate making is one of innovation. Every advancement has helped us toward the high-quality and delicious chocolate products we enjoy today. And not to toot our own horn, but PTL’s cutting-edge technology and expertise also played a significant role. From melting and cooling to enrobing and molding, our machines achieve consistent results that let manufacturers create exceptional chocolate products. With our continuous innovations like removable parts and easy cleaning, the possibilities for chocolate production are endless, and the future looks sweet.
Want to learn more about PTL machinery? Talk to the team now.