WHAT IS BEAN-TO-BAR CHOCOLATE?
Chocolate as we know it appeared in Europe in the 1800s when an Englishman managed to turn cacao paste into a solid bar. The Swiss then added condensed milk to it and voila, the Nestles and Cadburys were born, introducing commercial chocolate to the world.
In the 2000, two Americans deconstruct the chocolate making process and try to make chocolate in a slow way that puts cacao back at the centre of the process. They were the ones who started the bean-to-bar or craft chocolate movement that we are part of. Much like craft beer and sourdough bread did, craft chocolate aims at going back to the more traditional, healthier and less processed product.
Bean-to-bar is literally the transformation of cacao beans into chocolate using intentional and manual processes to retain the original taste and benefit of the cacao.
Each craft chocolate maker has their own way to work with the chocolate and although we all follow similar steps, the variance in time and temperatures during the process will give a completely unique chocolate bar at the end.
Making a chocolate bar from the bean to the bar takes us 5 days:
We receive the beans fermented and sundried from our farmers in Vietnam. The first step is to sort the beans to make sure they are clean.
The cacao beans are then roasted using a coffee roaster. Interestingly, we need to adapt the roasting process with each new bag of cacao. This is because the way it ferments and dries at the farm before we receive it always a little different due to changing weather conditions.
We then crack and winnow the beans to remove the protective shell. We end up with cacao nibs.
The nibs are put into a machine that looks like a stone mill to grind for about 3 days until it becomes liquid and smooth
We add some raw organic cane sugar (only a little, our bars are 75% cacao). No other ingredients go into the chocolate!
The chocolate is tempered to make shiny chocolate with a nice snap
We mould the tempered chocolate in our custom moulds. At this stage, we add the inclusions such as Sichuan pepper, hazelnuts, caramel or coffee,
The bars are put in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set and they are ready to be packaged and enjoyed!
Overall, craft chocolate makers use high quality ingredients, take time to develop the right aroma resulting in small batches.