The Art of Roasting


Chocolatiers at the top of their game are widely recognised and often have cult followings. But what about the skilled people behind the scenes who make that perfect chocolate possible? One such person is the roaster, key to the magical transformation of raw cocoa into finished chocolate.

We take a look at the rarest of rare in the chocolate industry; a cocoa roaster in a far corner of the world where the profession is not common. This is the world of Josia, head roaster for the production of MIA chocolate on the far off island of Madagascar.

Considering less than 1% of the world’s chocolate is made in Africa, it’s no surprise Josia had to start from scratch without any formal training. Despite the challenges, he has been quietly mastering his skills over the past decade under the master chocolate maker’s guidance. Equipped with a vintage coffee roaster and a lot of passion, Josia has learned the art of roasting Madagascan fine flavour cocoa one batch at a time.

Like top grade coffee, fine flavour cocoa is roasted at a lighter temperature and for a shorter time vis-a-vis its mass market counterpart. Josia: “The goal is to bring out the flavours that have been developed in the fermentation and sun drying of the beans through the magical Maillard reaction which creates hundreds of different flavour compounds.”

Asked how he chooses the perfect time to transition the delicate Madagascan beans from the heat of roasting to the cooling tray, Josia explained, “Like coffee, cocoa beans pop in the latter stages of roasting. This is when I constantly taste the beans to achieve the perfect flavour profile.”

When it comes to MIA chocolate, Josia has applied his skills to a new frontier; the nuts, coconut, hemp seed and other ingredients in MIA inclusions. Josia: “We use a copper drum for the MIA inclusions because copper an excellent conductor of heat, providing an even roast. The inclusions are a perfect extension of cocoa roasting because I can balance the added flavours and touches of salt with the natural red fruit notes that make delicious Madagascan cocoa part of the world’s top 10%.”

As highlighted in the Huffington Post article, “What’s Fancy Chocolate Made Of That Makes It So Expensive,” master roasters like Josia depend on the work of many others to create delicious chocolate, from dedicated cocoa farmers to skilled chocolate makers who care for the rest of the process. In a nutshell, tasting a craft chocolate bar is tasting the combined work of many artisans brought together as one.

Read the Huffington Post article at