Our Bean-to-Bar Process
We are very particular about what ingredients go into our chocolate and how those ingredients are processed. This is why we control the entire process from receiving the well fermented, raw cocoa beans from our growers to handing over the finished chocolate bar to our retail partners.
While some bean-to-bar manufacturers make chocolate directly from raw beans without roasting, we are of the opinion that roasting is an essential step in producing high quality chocolate. The roasting process changes many of the ingredients of the beans and brings out the lovely intense chocolate aromas that we attempt to lock into our bars. We have spent many hours sitting next to the roasting machine, slowly zeroing in on the roasting profile that we find best showcases the characteristics of the particular beans.
Cracking and Winnowing
After the roasted beans have cooled down, we crack them and are left with a big container of nibs and husks. The nibs represent the pure cocoa that will go into our chocolate bars. The husks are not required for chocolate making, so we separate them from the nibs in the winnowing process. While the husks are not used for chocolate, they have other uses, including soaps and tea. We've also found they make great mulch for our garden.
Cocoa beans contain approximately 50% cocoa solids and 50% cocoa butter. In the grinding process, we grind the nibs while applying some gentle heat. This transforms the nibs into so-called cocoa liquor, the key ingredient for all of our chocolate. As you might expect, cocoa liquor has a very intense taste and most palates would not find the taste of the liquor at this stage very appealing.
Right after the grinding process, the cocoa liquor still contains many volatile aroma compounds, many of which would not be enjoyable in a chocolate bar. Also, the particle size of the cocoa solids in the freshly ground liquor is still quite large and clearly perceivable by the human tongue. As the cocoa liquor is refined in our stone grinder, gently heated by friction, volatile aromas evaporate and the particle size of the cocoa solids becomes smaller and smaller. Other ingredients like raw sugar and milk powder are also added at this stage.
While we could move straight on to moulding the chocolate into bars after the refining process, we usually age the chocolate for a while to let the aromas settle down and fully integrate.
The cocoa butter in chocolate can take on several different types of crystal form from type I to type VI. Depending on the predominant type of crystal form, the texture, surface appearance, melting temperature and mouthfeel of the chocolate vary considerably. When we temper our chocolate, we encourage the formation of type V crystals, ensuring our chocolate has a firm snap, nice shiny surface and relatively high melting temperature.
As soon as our chocolate is tempered, we hand pour it into moulds. Well tempered chocolate sets quite quickly at room temperature. On hot days, we sometimes get a bit of help from the fresh sea breeze coming off the Indian Ocean.
We love the look of our bars as they come out of the moulds, but of course they all need to be wrapped before they leave the building. We hand wrap every bar with love, twice (inner wrapper and outer wrapper). We hope you appreciate the effort that has gone into the bar you hold in your hand.