First a sunbath, then off to sea.
After fermentation, the cocoa beans contain a great deal of moisture, providing the perfect breeding-ground for microorganisms. This means they are not ready for their journey by ship to the world's chocolate manufacturers. To reduce their moisture content to 5–7%, they are dried in the tropical sun for one or two weeks on mats, groundsheets or roofs and turned over from time to time with a rake: it is essential for the cocoa beans' quality and shelf life that they are dried evenly and gently on all sides.
Drying them in ovens runs the risk of giving the cocoa beans a smoky flavour. This is no longer a risk with modern heat exchangers, but few can afford equipment of that type.
During the drying stage, the cocoa beans take on their typical flavour and colour and shrink to half their original size. After their moisture content has been checked, the beans are packed in jute or sisal sacks and sent off on their long journey.