Its aim is to reduce the moisture content of fermented beans (60%) to less than 8% …
Its aim is to reduce the moisture content of fermented beans (60%) to less than 8%, so as to ensure good conditions of cocoa conservation. The fermentation continues more or less during drying. The drying conditions therefore depend on the fermentation conditions.
Natural or solar drying: this is most commonly used. It lasts from 8 to 15 days depending on the weather conditions.
Mat drying: primitive and used only on small farms. The beans are laid out in plain layers on bamboo mats placed on the ground or on a rustic frame. In the evening and with each rain, the mats are rolled up (with the cocoa) and put in the shelter.
The bus dryer: it includes a small fixed box roof covered with mats or sheet metal and more or less sophisticated rails on which drying racks are slid. It is a very common model in Africa.
The mobile roof dryer: the principle is the opposite of that of the bus dryer. The drying area, often a cemented platform, is fixed. The roof, made of sheet metal, is removable. Mostly used in America.
The tilting dryer: wooden frames with a mesh bottom (bamboo or metal) on which the cocoa is placed and covered with a polythene tarpaulin. These frames are half-length on a horizontal bar placed one meter above the ground and on which they can rotate to always receive maximum solar energy.
The cocoa dance: the drying area is slowly walked on by dancers, which ensures a regular brewing of cocoa. Characteristic in Latin America.
Artificial drying: it becomes indispensable when climatic conditions do not lend themselves to natural drying (it rains during the harvest period, for example) or when the importance of planting requires surfaces that are too large for this type of drying.
Simple dryers: they have a heated drying area underneath. The drying only lasts a few days. The cocoa must be frequently stirred and especially isolated from any smoke.
Hot-air dryers are: either racks arranged or above pipes, or a drying area through which hot air is blown.
Mechanical dryers: dryers used for coffee or cereal and adapted for cocoa. They comprise of: either dryers with movable screens circulating in a tunnel through which hot air is blown, or rotary dryers where the hot air passes through a moving cylinder containing the cocoa. They are profitable only for a large volume of cocoa; drying takes 10 to 20 hours depending on the initial moisture content.
Storage is carried out either in large silos or in warehouses where the beans remain on pallets in their original bags. The premises are subject to a strict and permanent control in terms of hygiene, temperature and degree of hygrometry. Samples are also taken inside the bags to control the bean quality.
Image 1: Bus Dryer
Image 2: Swinging Dryer
Image 3: Mobile Roof Dryer