The Bean-to-Bar revolution in chocolate making was born in the USA. When tech geeks and chocolate lovers went looking for quality chocolate and discovered that the humble wet stone grinder (from south India, used to grind rice for idli) made a great tool for micro to small scale craft chocolate making, the bean-to-bar chocolate industry was born.
Making chocolate, once the mainstay of elite Italian, Belgian and Swiss chocolate makers, freely open to anyone with basic reading skills and the gumption to get their hands dirty. Grinding it with sugar in a stone grinder, now available specifically for bean-to-bar chocolate making. Many were reverse engineered by the early players in the market.
Bean-to-Bar chocolate has no regulating authority or defining terminology as such & could mean different things for each chocolate maker, but essentially a main theme across bean-to-bar makers is their dedication to sourcing quality ensuring social welfare and producing pure chocolate to showcase the naturally occurring flavours in each estate / region's terroir.
Beyond that there is a world of amazing inclusions and variations to explore in craft bean-to-bar chocolate, with each hyper-local maker bringing new nuances and inspiration to the now growing table of delicious artisan chocolates in the world.
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate @ home
BEAN TO NIB
The first stage my beans go through is a thorough sorting stage, where all flat, damaged, cracked or holey beans are removed.
Next the beans are roasted in a drum roaster in my oven to unique settings (it is some trial and error to discover each batch's sweet spot).
They are then hand shelled and sieved to clear all inner parchment & mandibles, leaving us with clean and nutritious cocoa nibs, ready for the grind.
NIB TO LIQOR
The cleaned cocoa nibs go through a brief final sterilization quick roast and are put to the grind (quite literally) in an Indian idli grinder (now serving as chocolate melanguer), basically a contraption with two round granite stones that rotate on a revolving granite base.
The nibs along with some extra cocoa butter and unrefined cane sugar are ground by this wonderful stone-grinder for anything from 12 to 36 hours. Depending on the bean and desired results.
TEMPERING A PRODUCT
This is the stage where every chocolate maker's mettle is tested, in the fine art of tempering! To turn the delicious chocolate we've ground, into fine flavour bars, one has to have a good "temper".
Truly tempering is more science than art, but performing it right is surely an art, as there are a few different methods to it, I am using the silk tempering method and its serving me well. No mistakes, mess ups or blobs of chocolate all over my lab ;-)
And here we have the finished Bar from the cocoa beans that went through many steps from harvest to this wonderful product we call the chocolate bar. Bean to Bar chocolate in a nutshell.