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.
At the farm
The farmer grows cacao of 5 different variety on his specific terroir. There are 2 harvest in a year.
When ripe, the cacao pods are emptied in wooden fermentation boxes and the cacao beans are left for 1 week for a wild fermentation.
The last step at the farm is the drying of the beans that also take about 1 week in the sun. The taste of fermentation will be more or less pronounced depending on the drying speed.
At the Chocolate Lab
We use a coffee roaster to roast our beans for ultimate control and consistency. The roast will tame down some of the acidic notes from fermentation and bring out some more chocolatey and nutty notes.
Refining and Conching
Once the beans are roasted, they get peeled so that we are left only with the cacao nib. The nibs get ground down with a stone grinder for 2-3 days. This will reduce the particle size of the cacao, making a smooth chocolate. The stone grinder will also allow the flavour of the cacao to develop, opening up some of the more subtle flavours. Our chocolate is aged 1 month after this process to let the flavour stabilise.
The last step of the process is tempering in which we use heating and cooling the chocolate to turn it into a shiny and snappy bat that melts in your mouth and not in your hands,. There is a lot of science attached to this process and if you are interested to learn more, you can read here.
Once the chocolate is tempered we add natural flavours to it such as teas, peppers, spices and nuts. The bars are then packaged right away and ready to be shipped out!
Overall, craft chocolate makers use high quality ingredients, take time to develop the right aroma resulting in small batches.