Spectrophotometric Analysis of Cocoa Beans: Taking a Closer Look at the Benefits of Color Measurement

Chocolate is one of my favorite food groups. Okay, well maybe it’s not a food group, but I have learned that chocolate is good for your health, and many of the biochemical properties found in cocoa beans can aid in digestion, cardiovascular, and psychological health. Spectrophotometers are a useful tool when it comes to analyzing the various properties of cocoa beans. The quantifiable data produced through color measurement provides a valuable analytical tool that can be used for processing methods, caffeine extraction quantification, and for quality control.

spectrophotometric analysis
Cocoa beans provide a variety of biochemical components that can positively impact health and can be measured through spectrophotometric analysis.
Image Source: Flickr user Everjean

Measuring specific properties of cocoa beans

One of the most beneficial uses of spectral analysis in cocoa beans is for the determination of caffeine. Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in the seeds of the cocoa plant, which are also known as cocoa beans. This is the same chemical substance that is found in coffee beans and is part of a group of compound substances known as methylxanthines. Although many view coffee beans as a primary source for caffeine extraction, cocoa beans also provide another source to fill the demand for caffeine in food and beverage products.

spectrophotometric analysis
Cocoa beans readily provide a source of caffeine which can be extracted and used to meet the growing market for food, beverages, and energy products that utilize this compound.
Image Source: Flickr user Free Photos

Another chemical compound that can be determined in cocoas beans through UV spectral analysis is theobromine (TB). TB is in the xanthine family along with caffeine (CF), and both have been noted by nutritionists for their mood-enhancing properties. The various physiological effects of these compounds include its use as a stimulant for cardiopulmonary functioning and the central nervous system (CF), as well as for smooth muscle relaxant applications (TB). Both of these compounds can be measured as derivatives using UV spectrophotometry. The ability to accurately measure sample batch mixtures allows for the proper use and application of these compounds and assures safety and quality.

Measuring cocoa for quality

Cocoa beans also provide powerful antioxidant benefits. The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has recognized cocoa beans as a good source of antioxidants based on strict quality control and processing guidelines. Minimal processing is recommended to maintain the antioxidant qualities in cocoa beans, so spectral analysis is vital for upholding precise processing standards. Processed cocoa beans are subject to various stages of roasting that require accurate and real-time color measurement data to ensure that proper color and quality is maintained. Research has shown that spectrophotometric analysis provides the fastest and most inexpensive method for monitoring the color of roasted cocoa beans.

Monitoring and quantification of exact levels of cocoa is necessary for many chocolate and cocoa-derived products. Percentage values of cocoa must be measured for accurate labeling of all cocoa products. Consumers looking for the health benefits of chocolate want to know exactly what levels of cocoa are in their products and to be sure that proper processing methods are used to ensure quality. Spectrophotometers provide the fastest and easiest method of analysis, and can guarantee that quality guidelines are met.

spectrophotometric analysis
Consumers look for quantification of cocoa in their chocolate products as a sign of quality and for the added health benefits.
Image Source: Flickr user John Loo

Spectrophotometers for cocoa bean analysis

Spectrophotometers provide a simple and cost-effective way to measure the properties of cocoa beans. Advanced technology in color measurement has allowed for instrumentation to be specifically designed to meet the various needs of the food industry. At HunterLab, we specialize in spectrophotometric instrumentation for chemical analysis of food products and precise roasting measurement applications. Our equipment is tailor-made to meet industry specification and is designed for portability, durability, and ease of use. For more information about our product options and industry technology, contact HunterLab today.

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