Exploring The Rich History of Cocoa and Cocoa Powder in Ghana

March 17, 2023

Exploring The Rich History of Cocoa and Cocoa Powder in Ghana

March 17, 2023

Cocoa in Ghana dates back to the late 19th century when it was introduced by Tetteh Quarshie. He is said to have acquired cocoa beans from Fernando Po Island (now Bioko Island) in Equatorial Guinea, where he had travelled to work as a blacksmith. Upon his return to Ghana, Tetteh Quarshie established a cocoa plantation in Mampong-Akuapem, which became the foundation for the cocoa industry in Ghana.. The fertile lands and suitable climate of Ghana’s coastal regions were well-suited for cocoa cultivation, and the industry quickly became a major contributor to the country’s economy. In the early 20th century, Ghana became the world’s largest cocoa producer, and today it remains one of the top cocoa-producing countries in the world. The cultivation of cocoa  has played a significant role in shaping Ghana’s economic, social, and political landscape, and continues to be a vital industry for the country’s development.


Growing Cocoa in Ghana

Growing cocoa in Ghana is a challenge. The climate of Ghana is generally warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 35 degrees Celsius (64 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Rainfall occurs throughout the year but is heaviest between May and October.

The cocoa farming process involves growing the trees, harvesting them when they’re ready and drying out their beans before they’re ground into powder form. Cocoa trees are planted at intervals of about 3 meters (10 feet) apart in rows that run east-west so that shade from one tree can protect another from direct sunlight during hot weather. Farmers usually begin planting new trees after every harvest cycle ends because it takes five years before you’ll see any fruit on your plants–and even then only if you’ve done everything right!


Harvesting and Processing Cocoa in Ghana

The harvesting process begins with the cocoa tree, which is grown in tropical climates. The cocoa pods are harvested by hand and then brought to a processing facility where they are cracked open and the beans inside removed. These beans undergo fermentation to remove their outer shell, which is called a winnowing process. They are then dried out for several days before being sold as chocolate bars or Cocoa Powder!

Below are some common uses of cocoa:

  1. Baking: Cocoa is a staple ingredient in many baked goods such as cakes, brownies, and cookies.
  2. Beverages: Cocoa powder can be used to make hot chocolate, chocolate milk, and chocolate smoothies.
  3. Cosmetics: Cocoa butter, a by product of cocoa, is used in cosmetics and skincare products due to its moisturising properties.
  4. Medicinal purposes: Cocoa is believed to have several health benefits due to its high antioxidant content. It has been associated with reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and aiding in digestion.

Natural vs Alkalized Cocoa Powder

There are two main types of cocoa powder available on the market: natural cocoa powder and alkalized (also known as Dutch-processed) cocoa powder.

Natural cocoa powder is made by grinding cocoa beans into a fine powder. It is slightly acidic, with a pH range of 5 to 6, and has a strong chocolate flavour. Natural cocoa powder is typically used in recipes that require baking soda, as the acidity of the cocoa powder reacts with the baking soda to help leaven the baked goods.

Alkalized cocoa powder is made by treating natural cocoa powder with an alkali solution, such as potassium carbonate. The process reduces the acidity of the cocoa powder, resulting in a pH range of 7 to 8, and a milder chocolate flavour. Alkalized cocoa powder is often used in recipes that require baking powder, as the neutral pH of the cocoa powder does not react with the baking powder.

While both natural and alkalized cocoa powders can be used in a wide range of applications, there are some differences between the two. Natural cocoa powder is generally considered to have a stronger chocolate flavour and is preferred in recipes that require a more intense chocolate taste. Alkalized cocoa powder, on the other hand, has a milder chocolate flavour and is preferred in recipes that require a more subtle chocolate taste or a darker colour.

Sustainability and Fair Trade

Ghana produces about 1 million tons of cocoa per year, making it one of the top five producers in the world. It’s also home to many small family farms that rely on cocoa as their primary source of income. To ensure sustainability and fair trade practices, we only work with farmers who adhere to strict standards set by certifiers like Fair trade International and UTZ Certified. These organisations ensure that all farmers receive fair wages for their work as well as safe working conditions, access to healthcare and education for children (including girls), protection from child labour exploitation etc.


The cocoa industry is an essential part of Ghana’s economy, with the country being the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa. The government has implemented policies to support the industry, including price stabilisation schemes and investment in infrastructure.

Cocoa powder is a significant product in the industry and is known for its high-quality and rich flavour profile, making it a popular choice among manufacturers. However, the industry faces some challenges, including ageing trees, pests and diseases, and climate change. The government and industry stakeholders are working to address these issues through various initiatives, such as the development of disease-resistant varieties of cocoa and the use of new technologies. Despite these challenges, the cocoa industry in Ghana continues to provide employment opportunities, contributes to poverty reduction and infrastructure development