To Pinoy chocolate lovers out there: Researchers have developed a new method for determining the quality of cacao beans. This means that soon enough, you’ll have better-quality chocolates to sink your teeth into.
Cacao freshness, guaranteed
Led by Engr. Reynaldo P. Gregorio, the team created a portable sensor device that can instantly measure the freshness of harvested cacao beans. Engr. Gregorio and his fellow researchers came up with the device in a project under the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) called “Development of Sensor Devices for Cacao Quality Measurement.”
Funding for the project came from the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) division, based in Los Baños, Laguna.
Interestingly, this portable and easy-to-use sensor device only requires several drops of mucilage from a cacao bean. Through the sensor’s receptacle, it can test the harvested bean’s sugar and alcohol content, thereby determining its freshness level. It then displays the results of its software’s analysis via a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, very much like a laptop monitor. The device can even detect whether or not the bean degraded in quality by measuring its salinity and water content.
A sweeter deal
Suppliers and buyers of freshly harvested beans, as well as chocolate processors, stand to benefit from this new invention. High-quality cacao beans are ones with high sugar content and no signs of fermentation, both of which can be determined via the sensor device.
The sensor device has already made its way to Davao, where it is being tested. There are plans to bring the device to other cacao-growing regions in the Philippines. This is to determine the device’s accuracy and viability for widespread use.
This proudly Pinoy-made invention will surely make Willy Wonka and his Oompa-Loompas green with envy.–MF