From Bean to Bar: The Story of Chocolate Making in Africa and the Notable Brands Leading the Way

Chocolate, a delightful treat enjoyed by millions worldwide, has a long and fascinating history rooted in Africa. The continent's rich cocoa production and diverse chocolate-making techniques...
Published on
March 20, 2023
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Here is what you need to know:

  • Africa accounts for about 80 % of global cocoa production
  • West Africa is the heart of the global cocoa industry, with Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire having more than 60% of cocoa production.
  • The global chocolate market is expected to reach USD 171.6 billion by 2028.
  • More than a third of cocoa beans are processed in Europe.


Chocolate, a delightful treat enjoyed by millions worldwide, has a long and fascinating history rooted in Africa. The continent's rich cocoa production and diverse chocolate-making techniques have led to an increasing number of notable African chocolate brands gaining global recognition. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global chocolate market is expected to reach USD 171.6 billion by 2028, with Africa playing a significant role in this growth. 

The African chocolate industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, driven by rising demand for premium and ethically sourced chocolates, increasing consumer awareness about the health benefits of dark chocolate, and advancements in chocolate-making technology. As a result, the continent has seen a rise in craft chocolate makers focusing on quality, sustainability, and unique flavour profiles.

With the growing importance of the African chocolate industry in the global market, understanding the story behind the bean-to-bar process and the brands leading the way is crucial for chocolate lovers and industry professionals alike. So let's dive into the world of African chocolate and discover the secrets behind its irresistible flavours and success.

Cocoa production and processing

The History of Cocoa Production in Africa

West African Cocoa Dominance

Cocoa production in Africa began in the late 19th century when cocoa trees were introduced. West Africa, particularly Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, quickly became dominant players in the global cocoa market. Today, these two countries together produce more than 60% of the world's cocoa, making West Africa the heart of the cocoa industry.

Cocoa Production in Other African Regions

While West Africa remains the largest producer, cocoa has spread to other African regions, including Central and East Africa. Countries like Cameroon, Nigeria, and Tanzania have also started producing cocoa, contributing to Africa's cocoa dominance.

The Chocolate-Making Process

Let's walk through the chocolate-making process step by step:

  • Begin with the Harvest: Start by handpicking ripe cocoa pods from trees and extracting the beans surrounded by white pulp.
  • Move on to Fermentation: Place the beans and pulp in fermentation boxes or heaps, and let them undergo chemical changes that develop their flavour and colour for 5-7 days.
  • Proceed to Drying and Bagging: Sun-dry the fermented beans to reduce their moisture content, and then pack them into sacks for transportation.
  • Roast Those Beans: Roast the beans at specific temperatures and times to bring out their unique flavours.
  • Grind Them Down: Transform the roasted beans into a paste called cocoa liquor, which will serve as the base for your chocolate.
  • Refine with Conching: Improve the cocoa liquor's texture and flavour by continuously mixing, aerating, and heating it in conching.
  • Temper for Perfection: Carefully heat and cool the chocolate to achieve a shiny appearance and a satisfying snap when broken.
  • Mould, Set, and Enjoy: Pour the tempered chocolate into moulds, let it set, and then package and distribute the finished chocolate bars, ready to be enjoyed by chocolate lovers everywhere!

By following these essential steps in the chocolate-making process, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and dedication to creating the delectable treat that brings joy to so many.

Notable African Chocolate Brands

Several African brands have emerged as the chocolate industry has evolved, showcasing the continent's unique cocoa flavours and innovative chocolate-making techniques. These brands not only focus on the quality of their products but also pay close attention to their supply chain, distribution, and use of technology. Here are some standout brands:

'57 Chocolate (Ghana)

Founded by two sisters in 2014, '57 Chocolate is a pioneer in Ghana's craft chocolate industry. The company directly sources its cocoa beans from local farmers, ensuring fair prices and traceability. Regarding distribution, '57 Chocolate leverages e-commerce platforms and collaborations with international retailers to expand its reach. The brand also embraces technology in its production process, utilising modern machinery to maintain consistent quality and efficiency.

Chocoloza (South Africa)

Chocoloza, based in Johannesburg, is known for its artisanal Belgian-style chocolates made with African ingredients. The company is committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing, building solid relationships with local suppliers to secure high-quality, traceable ingredients. Chocoloza employs an efficient distribution network, working with brick-and-mortar retailers and online platforms to make their chocolates widely available.

De Villiers Chocolate (South Africa)

De Villiers Chocolate is a South African chocolate brand that uses only sourced cocoa beans from Uganda. They offer various products, from single-origin chocolate bars to flavoured chocolate thins and drinking chocolate. They also rely on e-commerce and partnerships with international retailers.

Chocolatier Robert (Madagascar)

Chocolatier Robert is a renowned chocolate brand from Madagascar that produces high-quality, single-origin chocolates using only the finest cocoa beans grown on the island. The company is committed to promoting Madagascar's unique cocoa flavours and supporting local farmers through ethical and sustainable sourcing. Chocolatier Robert has established an efficient supply chain, ensuring traceability from bean to bar, and leverages technology in its production process. Their products are distributed through e-commerce platforms, international retailers, and boutique stores.

Midunu Chocolates (Ghana)

Midunu Chocolates, founded by renowned chef Selassie Atadika, is a luxury artisan chocolate brand based in Accra, Ghana. The company is dedicated to creating unique, handcrafted chocolates that showcase the diverse flavours of the African continent while supporting local farmers and communities. Midunu Chocolates works closely with suppliers to ensure a transparent and sustainable supply chain. The brand combines traditional chocolate-making techniques with modern technology to create products of exceptional quality. Midunu Chocolates are distributed through select retailers, luxury hotels, and online stores, making them accessible to chocolate enthusiasts worldwide.

These African chocolate brands have proven that a solid commitment to quality, ethical practices, and sustainability can be seamlessly integrated with efficient supply chain management, distribution, and the use of technology. As a result, they continue to make a significant impact on the global chocolate market.


From bean to bar, the story of chocolate making in Africa is about passion, craftsmanship, and innovation. The continent's rich cocoa production has led to the emergence of exceptional chocolate brands that showcase the unique flavours of African cocoa while championing sustainability and ethical practices. As the world's appetite for fine chocolate grows, the African chocolate industry is poised to become an even more significant player in the global market.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Which African countries are the largest cocoa producers?

Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire are Africa's largest cocoa producers, accounting for over 60% of the world's cocoa production.

2. How long does it take for cocoa beans to ferment?

Cocoa beans typically ferment for five to seven days, a crucial step in developing their flavour and colour.

3. What is conching in the chocolate-making process?

Conching is a refining process where cocoa liquor is continuously mixed, aerated, and heated. It smoothens the chocolate's texture and improves its flavour.

4. Are African chocolate brands committed to ethical sourcing and sustainability?

Many African chocolate brands prioritise ethical sourcing and sustainability, ensuring their products support local farmers and communities while minimising environmental impact.

5. What sets African chocolate brands apart from others in the market?

African chocolate brands often showcase the unique flavours of the continent's cocoa beans, focusing on quality, craftsmanship, and innovation. Many also emphasise ethical practices and sustainability in their production processes.

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