Chocolate makers are the people who ‘make chocolate from dried cacao beans using specific equipment such as a roaster, grinder, refiner mill, conch and tempering machine. Their finished product is pure chocolate – usually in bar form.’ As per Ecole Chocolat.
Chocolate makers in my opinion, and in the chocolate world of things, are generally artisan, craft or small batch makers who start with imported cacao beans and through an extensive process make chocolate, most often in bar form.
Big chocolate manufacturing companies also exist, like Cadbury, Hershey’s, Lindt, Callebaut, etc. that are also companies that make chocolate, in bar form, from beans, but on a very huge mass production scale.
The chocolate makers I am referring to are smaller scale often only a small team of people who start with a (cacao) bean and end with a chocolate bar, thus creating bean to bar chocolate.
These chocolate makers more often than not source cacao beans via direct trade or source the beans by visiting cacao farms themselves. They import the cacao beans already dried and then make the beans into chocolate in their chocolatory, chocolate factory, chocolate shop, or home kitchen. Since they are creating the chocolate bar beginning with a bean, they can control roast profiles (much like different coffee roasts), as well as refining styles and times to create different flavour profiles (much like wines).
Artisan, craft and small batch chocolate makers often pay higher prices for quality cacao, direct trade prices are often higher than what is commonly paid for cacao beans. By sourcing the cacao personally or through a trusted cacao supplier the chocolate maker is starting with a flavourful cacao bean.
This allows each chocolate maker to bring out what they want in the cacao beans they started with.
Two different chocolate makers with the same beans (grown on the same farm) can end up with bars that have very different flavour notes depending on how they processed the beans. This opens up a world of flavours within chocolate.
Chocolate makers usually have a variety of cacao origins available in their line up of chocolate bars, often with the origin, where the cacao beans were grown, on the packaging. An example of this would be a Madagascar Chocolate Bar, meaning the cacao used in the bar was grown in Madagascar.
The taste of a bean to bar chocolate bar versus the taste of a mass-produced chocolate bar can feel huge. Often our chocolate in North America, specifically the chocolate you find at the cashier in the grocery store is full of fillers and vanilla, really masking the actual chocolate flavour. This is often done as it is a low-quality cacao bean that is used for this process.
I recommend that you take some time to explore your city, province, state, or country to see if there are any chocolate makers near you. It is worth tasting bean to bar, craft, or artisan chocolate if you have a chance to. The prince point is often a little bit higher than a grocery store chocolate bar but is 100% worth trying and tasting. Watch for fewer ingredients in the chocolate bar as a place to start. Watch for more articles in this blog series soon.
Other articles in this series ~ Chocolate Basics (terms)