How many cocoa beans are in the chocolate bar? I once got this question on the farmers’ market and I must admit that it caught me off guard and I more or less guessed the answer. But the question is quite right, and I can imagine that such information could and perhaps should be on the packaging. Sometimes we might be surprised.

So let’s start counting. Let’s take dark 70% chocolate in a bar weighing 100 grams. Another information is, of course, the weight of one cocoa bean, unroasted and unpeeled, which is about 1 gram, to count it easier.

But then we have a broader topic about the 70 percent cocoa in chocolate. This figure may mean something different in different countries, and for example the Czech methodology recognizing cocoa solids is very incomprehensible in this respect. However, here we start from a very simple number, which is used for example in Ecuador – those 30 percent is sugar. 70 percent is cocoa mass and cocoa butter. The emulsifier lecithin can be neglected, because even though it is contained in chocolate, it makes up only 1% of weight. So from the chart we have 70 grams of raw material, which is definitely made from cocoa beans. But how many?

The majority will be cocoa mass. How much, that is manufacturer by manufacturer. Cocoa butter is the most expensive of all chocolate ingredients, so it won’t be wasted. In addition, it is also contained in the cocoa mass and it must be supplied in addition for the right shine, structure, refraction and, in fact, aroma, as cocoa butter is a carrier of aroma. For cosmetic purposes, therefore, it is even deodorized, so that it does not smell of cocoa! Strange, huh? However, back to our cocoa math.

chocolate beans

So – a cocoa mass of 60 grams, butter 10 grams. Cocoa beans must be roasted and peeled (in chocolate factories, of course, by machine), thus losing the weight of evaporated water and husks. There are 0.7 grams left of the gram bean.

Now it will go fast – how many beans do we need weighing 0.7 g per 60 grams of cocoa mass? Cocoa mass is nothing but mixed beans, so the conversion is straightforward – 86 beans.

How many beans do we need per 10 grams of cocoa butter? A bean is made up of about half of cocoa butter, so from 0.7 grams of beans we have 0.35 grams of butter. Pressing has an efficiency of about 90%. Surely you have noticed that cocoa powder has about 11% fat (cocoa butter). That’s what was not pressed out. But I won’t bother with that now, the post is longer than I originally thought it would be. And it was such a simple question, right?

After these numerical adjustments, we come to the conclusion that we get an estimated 0.32 grams of butter from one bean. So we need 31 cocoa beans for ten grams.

And I promise the last math operation: 86 + 31 = 117
If you still remember what we asked at the beginning, the answer is that 117 cocoa beans are needed for a bar of 70% chocolate. That’s not little, is it? It’s more than the weight of the whole bar.

The losses were caused by roasting and peeling and the fact that we need relatively more beans for cocoa butter than for the same amount of cocoa mass. That’s also why cocoa butter is more expensive.

So you really have a lot of cocoa beans left in quality chocolate, and it’s a pity that buying low-percentage chocolates you pay mainly for ordinary sugar.


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