Coenraad Johannes Van Houten was a Dutch chocolate maker. He is the son of Casparus Van Houten who opened a chocolate factory in 1815. Casparus’s factory worked as a mill that ground whole cacao beans to make chocolate drinks, but the chocolate was hard to digest due to the high fat content. Both are credited with developing an efficient way to press the fat or cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans. The butter was extracted using Van Houten’s invention, the hydraulic press, on the center of the bean called the “nib.” Van Houten’s machine decreased the fat content of each bean by almost half. After the butter was extracted, the bean was pulverized into a fine powder. Van Houten treated this cacao powder with alkaline salts making it easily dissolvable in water. This process is called “dutching.” Van Houten’s process allowed for chocolate drinks to be enjoyed throughout Europe and eventually his invention would lead to the combining of chocolate powder with sugar and the extracted cocoa butter to create the solid treat that the all parts of the world still enjoy today.
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