Raw Chocolate
The beans are fermented for about a week, dried in the sun and then shipped to the chocolate maker. The chocolate maker starts by roasting the beans to bring out the flavor. Different beans from different places have different qualities and flavors, so they are often sorted and blended to produce a distinctive mix. Next, the roasted beans are winnowed. Winnowing removes the meat (also known as the nib) of the cocoa bean from its shell.

Photos courtesy Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate
Seeds are fermented (above) and dried (below) before they are roasted.

Once roasted, winnowed, and blended, the nibs are ground, and the ground nibs form a viscous liquid called chocolate liquor (the word liquor has nothing to do with alcohol -- that's just what it's called). All seeds contain some amount of fat, and cocoa beans are no different. However, cocoa beans are half fat, which is why the ground nibs form a liquid. If you have ever ground up peanuts to make real peanut butter, that is similar -- real peanut butter is a thick liquid. The difference between peanut oil and cocoa oil is that peanut oil is liquid at room temperature while cocoa oil is a solid up to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Chocolate liquor is pure, unsweetened chocolate. Eaten in this state, it's pretty nasty because it is bitter, but it's possible to acquire a taste for it.

You can do two different things with chocolate liquor. You can pour it into a mold and let it cool and solidify. This is unsweetened chocolate. Or you can press it in a hydraulic press to squeeze out the fat. When you do that, what you are left with is a dry cake of the ground cocoa bean solids and cocoa butter (useful in everything from tanning products to white chocolate). If you grind up the cake, you have cocoa powder. You can buy both unsweetened chocolate (baking chocolate) and pure cocoa powder at the grocery store. What you are buying is ground cocoa beans, either with or without the cocoa butter.