Bean To Bar 101

Be your own judge of chocolate!

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+ What is “bean to bar” (B2B) chocolate?

Bean to bar chocolate is chocolate made from the cacao seed, with a focus on fine flavour and fair relationships. All chocolate markers are essentially bean to bar, that is, they make chocolate from the cocoa bean into chocolate. However, bean to bar makers differ from the rest in two regards.

Firstly, they want to differentiate themselves from chocolatiers. These are professionals who use already made chocolate and turn it into bon bons, truffles, confections, and showpieces. Bean to bar makers want you to know that they are not simply obtaining bulk chocolate, and repackaging it, but making it from scratch. Roughly 90% or all of the chococolate shops in your city are chocolatiers, not chocolate makers. It's not that one is above the other, but they are two very different professions (with different skill sets) that revolve around chocolate.

Secondly, bean to bar makers want to differentiate themselves from the commercial grade chocolate makers, who produce most of the chocolate in the world. There was a time centuries ago when chocolate was made locally in a town by hand. Today, most chocolate is produced by a few large or medium size companies that simply pump out chocolate. The artisan side has been dissolved, but is returning now in the form of bean to bar. So what makes B2B makers different from non B2B makers? B2B revolve their business around two major values:

  • Fine flavour
    • Using varieties of cacao that are of high quality
    • Processing it in a way that retains the integrity of the flavour
  • Fair relationships
    • Paying farmers a great deal more for their cacao than the larger corporations
      • Bulk cacao is purchased for $1-2 a kilo, but fine cacao is purchased for $5, $8, or more per kilo.
    • Paying attention to the relationship their company has to the environment

This is the general idea of what B2B chocolate is and is not. However, B2B has become complicated with jargon and clever marketing. The ideas of organic, raw, vegan, also add to the confusion.

Remember, not all B2B is created equally. Just because its expensive chocolate, or "bean to bar" chocolate, doesn't mean its worth the price tag! It's up to you to discern. Educate yourself, taste, and learn from one another.

Work your way through the 3 main components crucial to understanding the world of fine chocolate:  

THE HISTORY

If you want to discern the various chocolate products available today, you must understand them within the context of their history, and understand how they came to be.  Bean to bar chocolate grew from a chain of reactions that spans thousands of years.  

THE PROCESS

Having an idea of each step of the process will enable you to make wiser choices when it comes to purchasing your chocolate.  As well, understanding the process will help you interpret labels, understand how flavor develops, and discern quality. 

NEUROGASTRONOMY

"Neuro" - relating to the nervous system, brain; "gastronomy" - the art of preparing and eating food.  Flavour is created in the brain!  Understanding how our brain interprets flavour will help you get the most out of your chocolate.  Anyone can learn to appreciate fine chocolate. Anyone.  You just require the proper tools and information.  

 

Mastering Chocolate Flavour

The Three Modules

Try and follow them in the order presented.  Let's Begin!

1

History

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+ Throughout The Ages

History of chocolate

2

Process

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+ Tree To Bar

The Process

3

Neurogastronomy

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*Important* These modules are meant to give you a concise yet substantial overview of chocolate, and lead you towards understanding bean to bar at a deeper level.  Of course, it doesn't end here.  Visit the resources, delve into books of interest, and stay up to date with current news and research!  As well, feel free to contact CWG for anything chocolate or cacao related. Your curiosity is my fuel. 

 

Chocolate & Books