We make all our chocolate from bean to bar. It's a very lengthy process!
But what does bean to bar mean, exactly?
Not all chocolate is the same. Rather than importing cheap cacao and then mixing it with fillers, our chocolate is made with the origin at front and center. That means that we're sourcing from a specific region in a specific country and that there will be differences between them, like wine or coffee!
Chocolate Makers vs. Chocolatiers
Rather than buying mass-produced chocolate and melting them down to create truffles or bonbons (what a Chocolatier is), we manufacture all our chocolate ourselves, hence we're Chocolate Makers! We like to describe what we do as like being a distillery, whereas Chocolatiers are like bartenders who work with pre-made ingredients.
Why are our bars not $1 like a Hershey's bar?
See below! It's quite the process to make chocolate this way, but it results in some of the best chocolate available anywhere. We're the most-awarded chocolate company in Southern California because we never compromise on quality. The most important aspect is that you really can taste the difference.
We source the best cacao beans from around the world. Most commodity cacao is priced at about $1/lb or $2,200 per Metric Ton (MT). We pay anywhere from $6,000 to $17,500 or more per Metric Ton because we want farmers to make a living wage from their incredible work.
Once we receive our beans, we store them in a material called GrainPro which hermetically seals our beans to keep them fresh for years! Though, we tend to go through them pretty quickly.
We sort all our beans by hand, looking to remove detritus (rocks, twigs, doubled-up beans, etc).
We gently roast all our cacao in our twin convection ovens to bring out the rich chocolate flavor. Every origin is roasted differently due to their individual characteristics.
Using an impact cracker, the beans are dropped into a cylinder and shattered, separating the shells from the nibs inside.
Once we've cracked the beans, we use our custom-built vibratory sorter which has several different screens so that we can winnow each size nib/shell combination.
Using an air current, we pull away the lighter shells while the heavier nibs drop into the bucket below.
Once we've winnowed the nibs, we load them into our grinders, which crush the nibs and release the cocoa butter inside. We do not add any cocoa butter for it to liquefy.
Using heat, we blow warm air over the surface of the chocolate which aerates it and blows off acetic acid.
We add Native sugar from Brazil to sweeten our chocolate. The amount of sugar determines the cacao percentage!
Once the chocolate is ground down to 20 microns or less, we pull the chocolate from the grinder and pour it onto a vibrating sieve. This fine mesh catches any bits of nibs or sugar that the stones may have missed, resulting in silky smooth chocolate!
Once we chill the blocks overnight, they are stored in our chocolate aging area for a month or more.
When we're ready to temper, we load a block into our proofer which melts the block into a liquid in about 14 hours.
Depending on the size of the batch, we may mold using our large depositor which can temper 1000 bars or more, our medium machine which can temper about 200 bars, or our small machine which can temper about 60 bars.
We wrap every bar by hand and package them for sale, either out of our retail area or online store, or by one of our hundreds of retailers!