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What is Cocoa Liquor?
Blog / Chocolate / What is Cocoa Liquor?

What is Cocoa Liquor?

The world of cocoa and chocolate is steeped in centuries of culture and tradition.

Within all of this lies a hidden ingredient that few outside of the professional confectionery circles are familiar with - cocoa liquor.

Not to be confused with an alcoholic beverage, cocoa liquor, also known as cocoa mass or unsweetened chocolate, is a delectable derivative of the cocoa bean that forms the base of many chocolate creations.

It is this liquor that holds the quintessential flavour of cocoa.

What Is Cocoa Liquor?

Cocoa liquor, contrary to what its name might suggest, has no connection to alcohol.

It is, in fact, a vital component in the chocolate-making process.

Also known as cocoa mass or unsweetened chocolate, cocoa liquor is the purest form of chocolate, devoid of any sugar, milk, or other additions.

This cocoa liquor contains both cocoa solids (which lend the distinctive chocolate flavour) and cocoa butter (providing the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture).

Cocoa liquor serves as the basis for all chocolate products.

It can be further processed and separated into cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Mixed with sugar and additional cocoa butter, it becomes chocolate as we commonly know it.

However, the quality of the final product greatly depends on the quality of the cocoa liquor, as this is where all the fundamental flavours originate.

What Is Cocoa Liquor Used For?

Cocoa liquor, or cocoa mass, forms the foundation for a myriad of chocolate products.

Its role is pivotal, providing both the distinctive flavour and the structural basis for chocolate.

Here is a closer look at how cocoa liquor is used.

  • Chocolate Production: The most common use for cocoa liquor is in the production of chocolate. Whether it's dark, milk, or white chocolate, cocoa liquor is a vital ingredient. The percentage of cocoa liquor used can significantly influence the flavour and texture of the final product. In dark chocolate, a higher proportion of cocoa liquor is used, lending it a more robust, bittersweet taste. Milk and white chocolate, on the other hand, contain less cocoa liquor and more additions like milk and sugar.

  • Cocoa Powder and Cocoa Butter: Cocoa liquor can be further processed to extract cocoa solids and cocoa butter separately. The cocoa liquor is pressed under high pressure, which separates it into these two components. The solid part is then ground into cocoa powder, while the cocoa butter is used in a variety of applications, from confectionery to cosmetics.

  • Baking and Desserts: Apart from chocolate making, cocoa liquor is also used directly in baking and dessert preparations. Its pure, concentrated chocolate flavour makes it a favourite among professional bakers and pastry chefs. They often use it in cakes, brownies, ganache, and other recipes where a strong, unadulterated cocoa flavour is desired.

  • Beverages: Certain traditional drinks, such as the Mexican 'Champurrado', use cocoa liquor for its depth of flavour. It's mixed with ingredients like masa, piloncillo, and spices to create a rich, warming beverage.

  • Confectionery: Cocoa liquor also finds use in specialised confectionery. It can be tempered and moulded into different forms, filled with a range of delectable centres to create gourmet chocolates. The possibilities are practically endless, showcasing the versatility of cocoa liquor.

To sum up, cocoa liquor, with its rich, robust flavour and versatility, forms an essential part of the chocolate industry and beyond.

How Is Cocoa Liquor Made?

Cocoa liquor, a central element in the chocolate production process, is the result of an intricate journey that starts with the humble cocoa bean.

Let's trace this path step by step to understand how cocoa liquor is made.

  • Harvesting: It all begins with the Theobroma cacao tree, which produces large, oval-shaped pods containing the cocoa beans. When these pods ripen, they're carefully harvested by hand to avoid damaging the tree or unripe pods.

  • Fermentation: The harvested pods are cracked open to reveal the cocoa beans, surrounded by a sweet, sticky pulp. This pulp-covered mass of beans is then left to ferment for several days, which is crucial to develop the characteristic chocolate flavours we know and love.

  • Drying: After fermentation, the beans are spread out and left to dry under the sun. This can take up to a week, reducing the moisture content and further enhancing the flavour profile of the beans.

  • Roasting: The dried beans are roasted to bring out their full flavour and aroma. The roasting temperature and duration can significantly affect the flavour of the final product, and it's here that the skill of the chocolatier truly comes into play.

  • Cracking and Winnowing: Post-roasting, the beans are cracked open, and the lighter shells are separated from the heavier nibs inside. This process, called winnowing, leaves us with pure cocoa nibs, the real treasure within the cocoa bean.

  • Grinding: The cocoa nibs are then ground down. The frictional heat generated during grinding causes the cocoa butter in the nibs to melt, resulting in a thick, dark brown liquid known as cocoa liquor.

Despite its name, cocoa liquor contains no alcohol.

It is a pure blend of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, ready to be transformed into a myriad of chocolate products.

Cocoa liquor forms the basis for chocolate production, and its quality can significantly impact the flavour, texture, and overall quality of the final chocolate product.

Therefore, each step in the cocoa liquor production process is essential and requires careful attention to detail.

Is Cocoa Liquor Alcoholic?

Despite its name, cocoa liquor isn't alcoholic at all.

The term 'liquor' in this context doesn't refer to a spirit or liqueur, but rather to the liquid state of the ground cocoa nibs.

It is the pure essence of the cocoa bean, a blend of both cocoa solids and cocoa butter, and contains no added alcohol or spirits.

In other words, cocoa liquor is the base from which all chocolate products are made.

Depending on the type of chocolate being produced, the cocoa liquor may be combined with varying amounts of sugar, additional cocoa butter, milk, and other ingredients.

The cocoa liquor itself, however, remains a non-alcoholic substance throughout the chocolate production process.

So, if you see 'cocoa liquor' listed as an ingredient on a chocolate product, you can be sure that it refers to a key component of the chocolate itself, and not to an alcoholic additive.

What Is Chocolate Liqueur?

While 'cocoa liquor' is a non-alcoholic product used in the production of chocolate, 'chocolate liqueur' is a different concept altogether.

It is indeed an alcoholic beverage, one that brings together the delightful richness of chocolate with the spirited kick of alcohol.

Chocolate liqueur can refer to two types of products.

One is a thick, syrupy, sweet concoction that contains cocoa and is often used in baking, cocktails, or as a topping for desserts.

This type of chocolate liqueur typically does not contain any alcohol.

However, more commonly, 'chocolate liqueur' refers to a chocolate-flavoured alcoholic beverage.

These beverages incorporate the flavours of chocolate, often along with other flavours like vanilla, cream, or coffee, into a base spirit such as vodka, rum, or brandy.

Some well-known brands, such as Baileys, produce versions of their cream liqueurs that feature chocolate as a prominent flavour.

Chocolate liqueurs can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as an ingredient in a variety of cocktails.

They're also a delightful addition to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for an extra warming kick.

How To Make Cocoa Liquor at Home

Creating your own cocoa liquor at home can be a challenging but rewarding process.

It involves a number of steps to transform raw cocoa beans into cocoa liquor.

Here is a simplified version of the process:

Materials Needed:

  • Raw cocoa beans
  • Oven
  • Blender or coffee grinder
  • Bowl


  • Roast the Beans: Preheat your oven to around 120°C. Spread the cocoa beans out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, turning them occasionally. Once they've developed a rich, dark colour and you can smell a strong chocolate aroma, they're done. Be careful not to burn the beans.

  • Cool and Crack the Beans: Allow the beans to cool, then crack them open to remove the nibs from the shell. You can do this by hand or use a rolling pin to gently crush the beans, then blow away the lighter shells (a process called winnowing).

  • Grind the Nibs: Place the nibs in a blender or coffee grinder. Grind them until they transform from small fragments into a thick, pasty liquid. This is your cocoa liquor. The heat generated by the grinding process will help melt the cocoa butter in the nibs, resulting in a liquid form.

Remember that cocoa liquor is quite bitter as it contains no sugar or other sweeteners, so it's not intended to be consumed directly.

However, it forms the base for all chocolate, and can be used in recipes that call for chocolate if you add your own sweeteners.

A few notes of caution: Be aware that the quality of homemade cocoa liquor can vary significantly, depending on the quality of the cocoa beans and the precision of the roasting and grinding processes.

Creating cocoa liquor at home is more of a fun experiment for the true chocolate lover, rather than a reliable way to produce a consistent product for cooking or baking.

If you're looking for cocoa liquor for culinary uses, it might be best to purchase professionally produced cocoa liquor.

Is Cocoa Liquor Vegan?

Cocoa liquor is vegan. It's derived purely from cocoa beans and doesn't contain any animal products or by-products.

The process involves harvesting cocoa beans, fermenting, drying, and roasting them, before grinding the resulting cocoa nibs into a liquid state.

This forms cocoa liquor, which is a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

However, it's essential to note that while cocoa liquor itself is vegan, not all products made from it necessarily are.

For instance, while dark chocolate, which contains a high percentage of cocoa liquor, is often vegan, milk chocolate is not as it contains milk, an animal-derived ingredient.

Similarly, white chocolate contains milk products and is therefore not vegan.

When purchasing chocolate or other products made from cocoa liquor, it's always a good idea to check the list of ingredients to ensure they align with your dietary requirements.

Many manufacturers produce vegan-friendly chocolates, using alternatives to dairy and ensuring that their products are free from any animal-derived ingredients.

But it's crucial to check each product individually, as ingredients can vary greatly.

Where Can You Buy Scrumptious Chocolate?

If you're on the hunt for truly scrumptious chocolate, look no further than Whitakers Chocolates.

We've been masters of chocolate making for over 130 years, using our rich heritage and unrivalled expertise to craft truly mouth-watering treats.

At Whitakers, our passion for chocolate is matched only by our commitment to quality. We firmly believe in using only 100% natural ingredients in our chocolates.

We source high-quality cocoa, pure and rich, and turn it into an array of delightful creations.

You won't find any artificial additives in our products - nothing nasty ever makes its way into a Whitakers chocolate.

We also understand that, in this day and age, it's not enough just to make delicious chocolate.

That's why we're proud to say that all our packaging is fully recyclable and made from recyclable materials.

When you savour a piece of Whitakers chocolate, you can do so knowing that not only does it taste great, but the packaging it came in is responsible and environmentally-friendly.

Whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or adhering to a gluten-free lifestyle, you're certain to find something in our collection to suit your needs.

From the classic milk and dark chocolates to innovative flavours and beautifully packaged gifts, every product is a testament to our long-standing tradition of excellence in chocolate making.

So, why not explore our selection and experience the delight of Whitakers Chocolates for yourself?

Here are some of our favourite treats:

Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

As expert chocolatiers with over 130 years of experience at Whitakers Chocolates, we've seen firsthand the significant role that cocoa liquor plays in chocolate production.

The journey from cocoa bean to luxurious treat is one we've been embarking on for generations, and we're excited to share some insights with you.

Cocoa liquor, also known as cocoa mass, is the very essence of the cocoa bean, representing its purest form.

It's this magical, dark, aromatic substance that serves as the basis for all our chocolate creations.

The name may suggest the presence of alcohol, but rest assured, it's entirely non-alcoholic.

Instead, it's a blend of cocoa solids, which give chocolate its characteristic flavour, and cocoa butter, which contributes to the velvety texture we all know and love.

At Whitakers, we understand the importance of high-quality cocoa liquor in achieving the rich taste and smooth texture of our chocolates.

We've honed our processes over the years, ensuring the cocoa beans are perfectly fermented, dried, roasted, and ground.

This meticulous approach allows us to extract the finest cocoa liquor, which in turn forms the basis for our wide range of delectable treats.

Moreover, we make a conscious effort to source our cocoa responsibly, ensuring not only a great tasting chocolate but also contributing positively towards sustainable cocoa farming.

Final Notes On Cocoa Liquor

Cocoa liquor, the heart and soul of chocolate, carries with it the promise of indulgence and delight that is delivered in each bite of our beloved confectionery.

Despite its misleading name, this non-alcoholic substance, created by finely grinding cocoa nibs, represents the purest form of the cocoa bean.

It's the ingredient, embodying a perfect balance of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, that forms the foundation of all chocolate products.

The creation of cocoa liquor is a testament to the chocolate maker's art, requiring skill, patience, and a deep understanding of the cocoa bean.