Cocoa powder comes from the beans (seeds) of cacao tress, a tropical plant grown in Africa, southeast Asia, Hawaii, Brazil, Colombia and other countries where rainforest conditions exist.
Cocoa powder is an organic material that is derived from the extraction of fat (cocoa butter) from cocoa beans. Roasted cocoa bean material is pressed at high intensity (6,000 to 12,000 psi or 413.7 to 827.4 bar) to extract most of the cocoa butter. The residual material typically contains about 10% fat and may then be ground with no further modification to yield natural cocoa powder, or may be treated with a mild alkali solution (a process called “Dutching”) to improve certain characteristics for food and beverage applications.
Natural cocoa powder has a light brown color and a pH level of 5.1 to 5.4. The processed (alkalized) cocoa powder is darker in color, ranging from brownish red to nearly black, with a pH from 6.8 to 8.1. The alkalization process reduces bitterness and improves solubility, which is important for beverage product applications. All of these pH values are considered safe for food use.1
Cocoa powder should be stored in a cool, dry place to preserve flavor and shelf life. Storage temperatures below 86°F (30°C) are necessary to maintain overall quality. Cocoa powder should be kept away from direct ultraviolet light or natural sunlight at all times and should be stored in tightly sealed bags or bulk bags to avoid contamination from other aromatic material or odors.2