On our farm in Hanalei we grow a few different varieties of cacao. We ferment the cacao on the farm and sun dry the beans. We have found there is a market for people who are looking for raw cacao beans as people like to roast them them themselves or eat them raw. So we started selling them online (see below)!!
Most cocoa beans that you will encounter for chocolate making are fermented, but are not roasted yet. The fermentation process does darken them up considerably and you may think they are already roasted, but the lack of an evenness in color and texture is the key to telling when they are un-roasted. Roasting accomplishing a number of things.
-It helps separate the outer husk from the inner bean and makes cracking and winnowing much easier.
-It also virtually sterilizes the cocoa bean. This is rather important as the conditions in which cocoa beans are fermented are naturally full of bacteria, fungi and molds. Roasting reduces this risk of infection.
Various chemical reactions occur when cocoa beans are roasted and proper roasting is integral to good flavored chocolate. The vinegar smell from fermenting is driven off. Raw beans don't taste like chocolate. Roasted beans do.
As long as you are not over roasting or over fermenting, the cacao beans should maintain their nutritional benefits.
We do not sell roasted cacao beans, but do sell cacao nibs which are roasted beans that have been cracked and winnowed (see below). If you choose to buy our raw cacao beans you can put them in the oven and roast them yourself :)