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Bean to Barstool Podcast | Sarah Bharath on Cacao Fermentation (Ep. 59)

Bean to Barstool Podcast

Many people don’t realize chocolate is a fermented food. Before we can make chocolate from cacao, that cacao has to undergo a fermentation process. This process is usually spontaneous, meaning the microbiotic cultures that carry out cacao fermentation are not manually added to the fermentation substrate but instead occur naturally. That doesn’t mean it’s a hands off process. A great deal of knowledge and expertise both traditional and technical is required to yield the best results. The entire process has much in common with spontaneous fermentation used in brewing Lambics and many Wild Ales.

In this episode we take a deep dive into cacao fermentation with Sarah Bharath. Sarah works with cacao farmers in Trinidad & Tobago on behalf of Meridian Cacao, assisting them in improving their farming and post-harvest processes. Sarah is both a passionate advocate for cacao farmers and an inquisitive researcher whose curiosity drives her enthusiasm for always learning more about this fascinating crop. Today we talk all about the cacao fermentation process, how the variables of that process impact the flavors of chocolate, and how climate change is forcing farmers and scientists to constantly adapt to new realities. We also compare cacao fermentation to the production of spontaneously brewed beer styles.

Bean to Barstool is a podcast that looks at the intersections between craft beer and craft chocolate, using them as lenses for exploring the world of flavor and the way flavor interacts with our memories, emotions, imaginations and even our identities to teach us more about who we are. It is hosted by Advanced Cicerone® David Nilsen. Bean to Barstool recently joined the PorchDrinking podcast network, so be sure to check out all their episodes here.


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