The Bean-to-Bar Process of Making Craft Chocolate
The bean-to-bar process of making craft chocolate is fascinating! Below is a snap shot of the process we use at Maribea. Shop our online store to experience the difference in bean-to-bar versus industrial chocolate products.
Cacao beans are harvested from trees that thrive in countries 22 degrees north and south of the equator. Growing conditions and fermentation methods shape the unique flavor characteristic of each crop of cacao beans. Once the harvested beans are received, they are sorted to discard debris and prepared for roasting.
Roasting the Cacao Beans
Roasting is a critical process where time, temperature and agitation work together to bring out the inherent flavor profile of the cacao beans. It is also during the roasting process that any unwanted pathogens are destroyed.
Cracking and Winnowing the Cacao Beans
Once roasting is complete, the cacao beans are cracked and winnowed to separate the exterior shell of the bean from the nib. The nibs of cacao beans can be ground into cacao liquor or pressed to make cacao butter and cacao powder. Sometimes the cacao nibs don’t make it all the way to a chocolate bar but end up making something like brownies or your favorite smoothie instead!
Melanging and Conching the Cacao Nibs
During melanging, stone wheels are used to grind the cacao nibs to form a paste. Next, cacao butter and sugar are added to the paste and the grinding continues until the mixture is silky smooth. During conching, the pressure on the stone wheels is lessened to stir and aerate the chocolate for the next 48 to 96 hours.
Tempering the Chocolate
After conching to the desired consistency, the chocolate is ready for tempering. Tempering involves the heating and cooling of chocolate to stabilize the crystals. The tempering procedure insures a beautifully smooth and shiny bar.
Molding the Finished Chocolate
Once the chocolate has been tempered, it is then molded, cooled, wrapped by hand, and labeled with the country of origin.