What are the main differences between Bean-To-Bar and large manufacturers?
The main difference is that bean to bar chocolate makers craft chocolate in small batches and preserve the nuances of the flavor identity of each bean. Large manufactures try and make all of their chocolate taste the same by roasting the bean at a very high temperature. By roasting at a very high temperature, you are eliminating what makes the chocolate unique from each region. The quality of the beans is often another distinguishing factor.
What is the difference between a Chocolatier and a Chocolate Maker?
A Chocolatier is someone who makes chocolates, those dipped, nutty, or cream-filled confections that we all know and love. A Chocolate Maker is someone, or a company, that buys and roasts cacao beans and grinds them into chocolate.
There are lots of chocolatiers out there, but there are very few Chocolate Makers, since the process is difficult, costly, and requires a lot of very specialized equipment and knowledge. Very few people can pull together the equipment for making chocolate, then figure out how to do it correctly, so most small-scale chocolate shops buy their couverture (pre-made chocolate with extra cocoa butter), melt it down, and use it for dipping their chocolates.
Where do our cacao beans come from?
Cacao trees need rich soils, lots of rainfall, and warm temperatures. So they naturally grow within 20 degrees of either side of the equator. Our beans come from places like Ecuador, Madagascar, Peru, Tanzania, and Venezuela. We are constantly traveling the world and building relationships with farmers in different countries to try and get the best quality beans we can find.
What makes a good cacao bean?
There are many factors to getting the best cacao beans. Of course the cacao tree varietal is very important, as well as the country and region of origin. But cacao farmers have their own key steps to perform in addition to growing cacao trees. Our farmers make sure the cacao pods (the fruit of the cacao tree) are harvested only at the right stage of ripeness and then properly peeled to expose the beans (the seeds of the fruit) and the pulp. The beans and pulp are then specially fermented for up to a week to optimize their flavors and then dried to lock in the flavors. At that point the farmers are ready to ship us the highest quality “flavor beans,” which are only about 5% of overall cacao production. Finding farmers who are equally passionate about their harvesting and fermentation process and who truly understand what effect all of their efforts have on the end product is critical to producing our superior quality chocolate.
What makes our chocolate unique?
Our dark chocolate consists of only two ingredients – cacao nibs and organic coconut palm sugar. Even our milk chocolate is crafted the same way, with just a touch of organic milk and vanilla. When you read the cocoa percentage on our dark chocolate bars, that means the remaining amount is simply organic coconut palm sugar. Almost all other manufacturers use other additives when making dark chocolate. By the way, anything over 70% Cacao is considered a health food. It’s pure and healthy.
Why do we use organic coconut palm sugar?
When we started, we were the only known bean-to-bar chocolate company using Organic Coconut Palm Sugar. The reason we use this sugar is because it is produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm, which grow in the same regions and climates where the Cacao trees grow. It also provides a unique flavor that we have discovered complements the chocolate without covering up the flavor. It’s as if they were meant to be together.
How is chocolate suppose to be tasted?
Use all of your senses to see, feel and smell the chocolates – not just taste.
- Break off a small piece of chocolate and recognize the delicateness and structure of the chocolate. Look and listen for the “snap.”
- Rub chocolate between thumb and index finger to warm and release the volatile aroma components – using your sense of smell.
- Biting the chocolate reveals its firmness and texture. A higher cocoa content is more solid, while the cream in milk and white chocolate feel more velvety.
- Let the chocolate melt on your tongue and taken in the variety of aromas. Sense the diversity of flavors such as sweet, sour and bitter – and the cooling contact of the chocolate on the tongue.
- Hold your breath for a short moment and exhale in phases through your nose. This will enhance the sense of aroma allowing you to experience the subtle nuances of chocolate. Nuances include sweet, such as caramel and vanilla; intense like macadamia nut; strong as espresso; fragrant like orange blossoms; fruity such as fresh berries or plums. Over 600 different natural aromas can be found hidden in a piece of chocolate!
- Fine chocolate develops flavors slowly, but can remain pleasantly on the palate for a while. A variety of notes may be distinguished, beginning with cocoa content, fruit, fruit acid, sweet and bitter.
If you can’t tell yet, we are pretty serious about chocolate.