Cocoa butter can be obtained either from a whole cocoa bean or from cocoa mass (liquor). In both cases the butter is obtained by pressing under immense (usually hydraulic) pressure for a set period of time. The pressing squeezes out the fat which is then collected as “crude” butter. The butter is then filtered to ensure perfect colour and clarity, and can then be either cooled and blocked, or remain as liquid. Cocoa butter is then usually further processed using a process known as “de-odourisation”. De-odourising removes all traces of smell and flavour from the fat. De-odourised butter is mainly used for the production of chocolate – it is added to cocoa mass (liquor) to increase the fat content to create the traditional texture of chocolate, although cocoa butter does have alternative uses in both pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
When processed in cocoa producing countries the butter is usually “natural” i.e. not de-odourised, and is packed in 25 kg multiply corrugated cardboard cartons, standardised for containerised shipping. In such cases, any further processing is usually carried out in destination countries. Careful shipping is vital to the safe carriage of cocoa butter, as although cocoa butter will not usually melt below 36ºC it will also not re-solidify above around 23ºC