Using Cacao Part 3: Homemade Cocoa Powder

cacao nibs

How To Make Homemade Cocoa Powder

Using Cacao Part 3

 How to make homemade cocoa powder


I suffer from high expectations, and since I use chocolate to self-medicate the consequences of that, I decided that I should begin applying my high expectations to the chocolate itself.  First, is it ethically produced chocolate?  Is it fresh?  And then, if I’m getting those two things how on earth can I have it affordable?  The answer lay within the nearest bag of organic, fair trade cacao nibs.  By purchasing bulk through Pantry Paratus, I am getting a great price.  By grinding my own nibs into powder, I am getting the freshest product possible.


Taste Test

 I wanted to know if I would really prefer it to the others on the market.

I did a cocoa powder taste test. 


Hersheys, Ghirardelli, and Organic Fair Trade Cacao Nibs


It was hardly a scientific approach.  The Hershey’s Powder and the Ghirardelli were in my pantry already. Both were within the expiration dates by a wide margin but I highly doubt I purchased them simultaneously so they are likely differing ages; they were stored properly and in the same conditions. 


Hershey's Cocoa Powder

    Tired.  Bland.  Slightly clumpy but a nice powder texture.

That was the Hershey’s.   No real complaints but definitely my least favorite.  It requires more to get the same chocolatey flavor.


Ghirardelli's Cocoa Powder

  Good flavor, nice powder. But expensive.


Yup, that would be the Ghirardelli’s. Having done a taste-test between it and Hershey’s, I would say that Ghirardelli’s is the better powder by far due to texture and a more potent chocolate flavor. I deliberately did not alter these photos to improve lighting; look at the difference in color between Hershey’s & Ghirardelli’s.


Grinding Cacao Nibs

    Best value (hands down), freshest flavor, and known origin.

  Extra steps and cleaning.


Without a doubt, I really do prefer the home-ground cacao nibs flavor-for-flavor.  Other powders remove much of the cacao fat so that it is shelf-stable, but it is where the deep, bitter flavor resides.  You are retaining that with cacao nibs, so fewer are needed to get a rich flavor.  With Ghirardelli selling for over $18 a lb, I think I’ll take the DIY method with the cacao nibs.  I use my coffee grinder so it isn’t really more work, but it is an extra step and the grinder does make one more thing in the dirty-dish pile.  Knowing the human trafficking involved in the chocolate industry, though, it feels extremely selfish to voice the “ugh, a dirty dish to feed my gluttonous indulgence for chocolate” complaint outloud.  <yup, erased and re-wrote the last paragraph twice—don’t want to sound like a horrible person OR like a self-righteous one.  It’s the chocolate talking. >


Cacao Nibs


How To Grind Cacao Nibs

The high level of fat in the nibs means that you should never use an electric grain mill.  Use either a solid and trustworthy food processor, a hand-crank grain mill with the stainless steel burrs, or a coffee grinder.  You will make your appliance earn its spot on the counter with this job, though, so be sure it is a tough one.  You will have to grind it several times.  It may never come out with the fine powder to which you are accustomed (shelf-stable powder also have a lot of the cacao fat removed), but the right appliance and multiple grindings can do it.  As you grind, you may need to pause and remove the gummy cacao fat (“liquor”) on the bottom of the grinder several times.  Store your powder in an air-tight container in the freezer for maximum shelf-life.  Remember that there is a high percentage of fat in that powder and it will go rancid.  Ideally, only grind what you plan to use within the week.


I’m done buying the store-bought stuff when fresh, full-flavored cocoa powder can be made so quickly, ethically, and affordably.  If you would like to pick up a 1 pound bag of cacao nibs for a great price, get them here with Pantry Paratus.


Humbly signing off to go wash dishes,




Did you miss the other articles in the Using Cacao Series?

Part 1: Is Cocoa Powder and Cacao Powder the Same Thing?

  Part 2: Chocolate By Any Other Name (Chocolate Defined)



All Photos are property of Pantry Paratus.  Feel free to share or pin them in conjunction with this blog, but  please keep proper attribution.  Thanks in advance.