You may have noticed that we only stock chocolate from bean-to-bar chocolate makers – i.e. makers who control the whole process, starting with roasting the beans (although a couple of them actually grow their own cacao as well). There are some great chocolatiers who use pre-made couverture, but we are most excited by what’s happening in the bean-to-bar craft sector of the industry. Here are a few reasons why…
- Total control
Because bean-to-bar chocolate makers have control over the whole process, they’re able to finely tune every step and create the best possible flavour and texture. The makers we work with are crafting chocolate in much smaller batches than big industrial producers, so it’s a lot more hands-on and there’s a much greater attention to intricate details. The best makers spend a lot of time testing different variables in the process, such as the roasting or conching times, and this enables them to finely tune their chocolate to perfection.
- Specialist Cacao
The best craft chocolate makers are sourcing fine quality and rare cacao that is vastly superior to the commodity cacao used in mainstream chocolate. Only around 5% of the world’s cacao is considered ‘fine flavour’, and growing these varieties is very difficult, as they often have lower yields of fruit and are more susceptible to diseases. Bean-to-bar makers honour these specialist beans by processing them lightly and with extra care, in order to preserve the delicate and nuanced flavours. They are working with subtle terroir, just like in fine wine.
Bean-to-bar craft chocolate offers an incredibly vast spectrum of flavours, way beyond the ‘chocolatey’ flavour that we all grew up with. Much like coffee, mainstream industrial chocolate is usually made with cheap commodity cacao that is very heavily roasted and processed, resulting in a flat and monotone flavour. Craft chocolate makers use specialty cacao and process it more carefully, in order to preserve its unique and complex flavour. Bars made from just beans and sugar can taste like hundreds of different things, such as citrus or tropical fruits, nuts or spices, herbs or flowers – the possibilities are endless, and we never tire of discovering new flavour notes!
- Passionate Creators
In all our years of working in this industry, we’ve found bean-to-bar chocolate makers to be some of the most passionate, talented and lovely people you could ever ask to meet. It’s not easy to make chocolate this way – it’s technically and logistically challenging, and financially arduous, to say the least. People who choose to do it are not looking for the easy route, they are driven by a strong moral compass, dedication to their craft, and a desire to change the world for the better.
- Strong Ethics
Ethics in chocolate is a highly complex issue, but it’s clear to us that craft chocolate makers are leading the way and showing the mainstream chocolate industry how to do things differently. We work with producers who pay way above the commodity (Futures Index) price for their cacao and much more than the Fairtrade price. They choose to work outside of the mainstream chocolate system and take a quality over quantity approach. We strongly believe this is the direction the entire chocolate industry needs to move in, as the current mainstream system is deeply unfair for farmers and workers. Chocolate has a very dark history and it’s time to move into a new era.
- Leading Innovation
The level of quality in the chocolate we stock has never been seen before. From its humble beginnings in basements and garages in the mid-1990s, the craft chocolate movement has now totally reinvented the chocolate-making handbook and transformed the possibilities for chocolate flavour and texture. We’re proud to work with producers who are at the forefront of this remarkable evolution. It’s a very exciting time to be a chocolate lover!
So if you haven’t yet discovered the world of bean-to-bar craft chocolate, what are you waiting for?! It’s an immensely rewarding, welcoming and delicious industry to be part of, so check out our online store and support our amazing suppliers. It’s time to take your tastebuds on an unforgettable adventure!