Around 1825, once his father had designed a press that could extract the cacao butter from the cacao mass, leaving a dry cacao cake, the duch chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed a process consitsing in washing the pulverised chocolate cake with a potassium solution (Alkalin solution). This process is now called “Ductching”. This treatment greatly lowers the natural acidity of cacao bean, increases it solubulity in water or milk smoothes the flavor and improves the color of the resulting powder.
This alkalizing process also greatly reduces the the amount of flavanols (the antioxidants molecules) which are the main health benefit of chocolate.
However, because of its capacity to reduce acidity – allowing to use lower quality beans which are more acid – and the ease of use provided by a ducth process, it is widely used in chocolate preparations, from hot chocolate powders to chocolate bars and cooking or couverture chocolates.
In the picture on theleft, the “Ducthed” powder is on the left
The company created by Van Houten remains a major actor in the chocolate market worldwide producing many different chocolate powders as well as a cooking bars.