HOW WE MAKE CHOCOLATE

Our approach to making chocolate is simple: source the best quality beans we can and build mutually beneficial relationships with the producers who grow and ferment them. We sort all of our beans by hand, removing debris or unfavorable beans. We can take weeks or months to develop a single origin’s flavor profile based on numerous iterations of roasting time and temperature, melanging time, and sugaring. We do everything by hand, including wrapping and shipping every bar.
 
All of our single-origin chocolate is made with just two ingredients: cocoa beans and cane sugar. We don’t add cocoa butter, lecithin, or vanilla. Our chocolate is free of soy, dairy, eggs, and gluten, and it is made in a factory that does not process nuts.

Most of the world’s chocolate is industrially manufactured by giant cocoa companies whose goals are simple, low-cost chocolate that always tastes the same. Many people have never truly experienced chocolate’s full potential. Like wine grapes, cocoa beans take their flavor from their varietal, their region of origin, the method and length of fermentation, and minute differences in roasting and grinding the beans with sugar. We’re always learning from the near infinite number of decisions that can subtlety alter the flavor profile of quality beans in a profound way.

 

 

CACAO FROM SOURCE

Cacao trees generally grow twenty degrees north and south of the equator. Greg, our Bean Sourcerer, travels wherever cacao is grown to source quality beans from partner producers we’re excited to work with. We look for growers and fermenters who have great beans and excellent labor practices along every step of the supply chain. We’ve bought cacao from nearly every continent (save for Antarctica). Greg shares best practices between producers to help them improve their quality and supply, and returns often to build and sustain our relationship, bring them tastes of their finished bars, and share the knowledge of growing, fermenting, and drying cacao with visiting chocolate enthusiasts.

OUR SUGAR

We only use sugar from the Native Green Cane Project northwest of São Paolo, Brazil. We buy Native’s mills also produce bioethanol, molasses, and animal feed, as well as enough electricity to process over six million tons of sugarcane per year. They provide about a third of the world’s organic sugar supply.

Historically, sugarcane is planted as a monocrop, harvested by burning off the leaves, and dosed heavily with fertilizer and pesticides. Spearheaded by Leontino Balbo, an agronomist whose family has been in the sugar business for over 100 years, the project aims to replace traditional sugarcane farming methods that ravage natural ecosystems.


1. Beans

Once we receive the sacks of dried beans, we sort through every bag by hand. We remove rocks, twigs, and any other farm debris, as well as cracked or flat beans.


2. Roasting

At the point of origin, our skilled partner producers open cacao pods with a machete and scoop out the beans, which are surrounded by a white fruity pulp. The beans and pulp are placed into large wooden boxes to ferment -- a crucial step for flavor development.


3. Cracking & Winnowing

The outer shell of the roasted cocoa bean, also called the husk, is too tough to eat. Cracking it makes for removing it easily.

Our homemade machines literally blow away the outer papery husk from the cracked and roasted beans, leaving the delicious cocoa bean nibs behind.


4. Melanging

Cocoa nibs are ground with sugar in a melanger for three days. A melanger is a machine with large, stone rollers that crushes the beans into smaller and smaller particles so that the chocolate doesn’t taste gritty. The friction from the rollers creates heat, which causes some of the harsher flavors to mellow, retaining the bean’s inherent characteristics.


5. Tempering

The crystals in chocolate are unstable. If you leave an untempered bar of chocolate out for too long it will bloom — meaning it turns white and gritty —which doesn’t look appetizing and doesn’t feel smooth in your mouth. Tempering stabilizes the chocolate and aligns the crystals in the fat. The chocolate must be heated, cooled, and agitated precisely to form the right type of crystals. Tempered chocolate is poured into molds, cooled, then unmolded into a finished bar.


6. Wrapping

Our bars are first foiled by hand to keep the chocolate free of scratches and fresh. They’re then wrapped in specialty paper made for us, by hand, in India, with patterns designed by our team.