Coenraad Johannes van Houten

Coenraad Johannes Van Houten

Coenraad Johannes van Houten

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<!-- Article uses American English-->Coenraad Johannes van Houten (March 15, 1801, Amsterdam - 1887, Weesp) was a Dutch chemist and chocolate maker known for the treatment of cocoa mass with alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste and make cocoa solids more water-soluble; the resulting product is still called "Dutch process" chocolate. He is also, incorrectly, credited with introducing a method for pressing the fat (cocoa butter) from roasted cocoa beans, which was in fact his father's invention.

Father and son van Houten

Coenraad van Houten was the son of Casparus van Houten (1770-1858) and Arnoldina Koster. His father opened a chocolate factory in Amsterdam in 1815, with a mill turned by laborers. At that time, cocoa beans were ground into a fine mass, which could then be mixed with milk to create a chocolate drink or, with addition of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, made into cookies. However, the high fat content (over 50%) made the chocolate very hard to digest.

Cocoa press

In 1828 Casparus van Houten Sr. (and not his son, who is usually credited) patented an inexpensive method for pressing the fat from roasted cocoa beans. The center of the bean, known as the "nib," contains an average of 54 percent cocoa butter, which is a natural fat. Van Houten's machine--a hydraulic press--reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half. This created a "cake" that could be pulverized into cocoa......
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