FROM BEAN TO BAR

See how we make our world award winning fine dark chocolate

Here is our process

Harvesting
Farmers from our farmers co-operative grow and collect pods from trees once they are ripe, usually indicated by a large change in colour. Pods can be mostly any colour.

The farmers cut off the pods from the tree using machetes when ripe, pods are gathered together and then opened by those same machetes, and the seeds are scooped out by hand and set in a large piles.
Fermentation  
After the seeds— usually thereafter called beans— are removed from their pods, they undergo fermentation. This process is traditionally done in wooden boxes placed in the sun and then covered in banana leaves so that the temperature gets high enough to impact the flavour of the beans. 

During fermentation, core temperature of the bean pile easily exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, and the bitter beans lose some of their bite as chocolate flavor pre-cursors are formed within each seed. The acids and alcohols being created as the sugars ferment, interacting with yeast and bacteria in the boxes, give off a strong odor. The color changes from a vibrant purple (forastero) or white (criollo) to a deep brown or light brown colour, respectively. 

We periodically mix beans to ensure even fermentation, and cut a random sample of beans open to test that everything is going well. After 7 days of fermentation, the beans have lost about half their weight and taste much more palatable.
Drying  
Following fermentation, the beans are laid out to dry. It takes 5 to 10 days on average for beans to dry enough to be shipped. In some very wet climates, such as Papua New Guinea or Trinidad, wood fires can be used to dry the beans fully, leading to a smoky flavor in the beans.

Following fermentation, the beans are laid out to dry. It takes 5 to 10 days on average for beans to dry enough to be shipped. The beans are turned hourly, to ensure sufficient aeration is achieved throughout the drying process.
Sorting
Once received, the beans are sorted by hand by removing any rocks or dirt or insects. 

Any cracked or broken beans are also taken out. 
Roasting
Once all cleaned up, the beans are roasted, using our own profile . Those flavor pre-cursors and acids formed during fermentation come back into play during roasting. 

The chemical composition of the beans changes drastically at this point, and that “chocolatey” flavor you associate with chocolate is finished up forming here— though there are more steps which impact other flavor notes down the line. 
Cracking/Winnowing 
The beans are next winnowed, meaning that their thin outer husks are removed, usually in the process breaking them into smaller pieces called nibs. 

Our batches of cacao go through a machine which runs air under the beans, forcing the heavier beans into one container and the lighter husks into another. These husks generally account for about 20% of the weight of the beans 
Grinding 
Now we grind the cacao, using stone grinders. Stone grinders are preferable because they add less of a flavor to the chocolate during processing. 

Sugar must also be pre-ground if the machine is not powerful enough to quickly grind it on its own (as with small home chocolate machines). The Champion Juicer is a common pre-grinder used in micro-batch chocolate making. You must also heat the nibs before adding, if you’ve got them to a small enough size without much grinding. 
Conching/Refining 
Now we conche & refine our chocolate the mixture will be pulverized into the smallest possible particles. This emulsifies the cocoa solids and the cocoa butter, softening the cacao’s flavor and smoothing out overall texture. 

To be more specific, refining refers to particle size, while conching is a less-definable process during which the sharp flavors in chocolate are reduced. The process of conching can take up to 72 hours. 

During the conching, a melangeur (French for “mixer”), continually mixes the chocolate to release bad flavors in the form of the acids built up during fermentation. To conche is basically to introduce air into the chocolate, with the idea that it allows these sour and bitter volatile particles to evaporate, softening the overall flavor of the chocolate.
Tempering  
Finally, the chocolate tastes like chocolate should (hopefully), and it is ready for tempering. One of the more chemically-intense steps of chocolate making is this heating & cooling process. 

Tempering stabilizes the fat molecules in chocolate. Of the six crystal structures which the fat (cocoa butter) can form, Form V is the most stable. 

Getting all the cocoa butter to form enough of these Form V particles is crucial to getting chocolate glossy and durable, melting in your mouth rather than your hands. Tempering involves heating chocolate to about 115 degrees Fahrenheit (less for milk or white or ruby chocolates), cooling to about 84 degrees (again, less for milk or white chocolates), and then turning it into bars
Molding / Wrapping 
Now we mold bars into plastic molds is the final step. Tempered chocolate will be lightly tapped against a tabletop to release air bubbles after molding. 

Bars will take a few hours to fully set, and then they will be shiny and have a strong snap when broken. 

Packaging on bars our consists of our traditional trademark foil and recyclable paper wrapping.

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