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Hi, All! I'm an aspiring chocolatier in Kansas City and am enrolled in the Professional Chocolatier course through ecolechocolat dotcom. I have been using Callebaut 835 as my primary couverture but wanted to add something a little snazzier to it. I was thinking of Valrhona, Sharffenberger, El Rey or Felchlin. So I went to the supplier chocolateman dotcom, where (there is no El Rey but) I was surprised to find the Felchlin is crazy inexpensive! Now I'm really curious why this is so: it is a Criollo product and Swiss and, by all reviews I've read, an outstanding chocolate. None of these variables suggest a much lower price than the dramatically costly Valrhona -- or do they? What makes Felchlin so cheap? Is there less production involved (e.g., shorter roasting time) because the Criollo beans are so fragrant?

I'd love any answers!

Kate R.

Tags: buying, cost, criollo, felchlin, manufacturing, price, swiss, wholesale

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First off, chocolateman is selling several varieties of Felchlin chocolate that are NOT a part of its Grand Cru line (e.g., the Ambra (milk) and the Edelweiss (white)). These varieties are made using less expensive beans but are made using exactly the same machinery as the Grand Cru chocolates (such as the Maracaibo 65%) with one exception: the Grand Cru chocolates are conched using old style longitudinal conches, the other chocolates are conched in modern vertical conches. Otherwise, the cleaning, roasting, cracking/winnowing, grinding, and refining are all done on the same machines. The price (and quality) difference is in the beans. The non Grand Cru chocolates are all blends and include beans from Ghana.

The Maracaibo 65% is being sold for a good price - Chocolate Man is just not taking as large a markup as other vendors. CM also might be working from slightly older (but still good) inventory purchased at a better exchange rate.

:: Clay
Thanks for the info, Clay!

I admit I'm still a little puzzled. $7.82/lb for the Maracaibo is still a way better deal than $14.4/lb for Valrhona's Manjari, another Grand Cru. Oh well, it's a steal for me!

Maybe the question to ask is why Manjari is so expensive - not why Felchlin is not as expensive.

FWIW, I've used a lot of the Maracaibo 65% (and sold a lot of it, too) and have found it a great chocolate to work with.

:: Clay

Exactly. Why is Valrhona's Manjari so expensive when it's not even a great example of Madagascan chocolate (at least not at that price level)? I currently live in Dubai and Valrhona's prices are ridiculous in that they are out of sync with their quality . Felchlin's Maracaibo 65% is superior to Manjari yet considerably cheaper. The phrase "Grand Cru" in the chocolate industry more often than not is weasel-speak for I'll-give-this-slightly-better-than-average-chocolate-bar-a-fancy-schmancy-sounding-appellation-cum-classification-and-take-the-consumer-all-the-way-to-the-cleaners-(laughing heartily as I do so)!

OB -

Best answer for this question is "brand inflation." Of all the chocolate makers, Valrhona has done the best job of positioning itself as "the" premium brand for confectionery and pastry.

And you pay for that.

Is it the best? Matter of personal taste. But you pay for it, nonetheless.

I have been thinking about taking the professional chocolatier course from ecolechocolate and noticed in your post that you were taking that course. I am wondering what you think of the course. I am curious as to how much you feel you are learning by taking the course online. It is hard to imagine that it would be successful without hands on teaching.
Appreciate any remarks you have.
Hi Yvonne,

I think the online aspect works quite well, actually, because my classmates are all over the world and it's fascinating to see what they do and what their options are -- for example, one student is in Pakistan and the other locally supplied chocolate is Baker's brand. I expect he will bring something wonderful to his locality. Of course it would be ideal to be in a workshop, but the instructor and tutor are very accessible by email, and there is a great discussion forum, so feedback is readily available for any questions or problems. The assignments are keenly graded. The resources you gain access to are fantastic and there are lots of video clips to assist with teaching various techniques. For me that, as well as being walked through all the steps needed to go from making chocolates in your kitchen to product pricing, drafting a business plan and planning all your material and ingredient sources and production schedule, has been the highlight. I'm really glad I'm taking the course, and I plan to take the Masters course if I get into larger-scale production.
Hi Kate,
Thank you for your comments, you have put me one step closer to signing up for a class.
I have been dabbling in chocolate for over 10 yrs now and have learned everything by trial and error and feel I could use a bit of help with some things. By the way, I very much like Felchlin chocolates ... their organic 74% Elvesia is very lovely ... if you have not had a chance to try it you should if you like their Maricaibo.

Just to second what Kate says, I'm enrolled right now too and really enjoying/learning a lot. The course is giving some structure for my explorations/experimentations, and I'm getting a lot of great information and resources through the course.

(Hi, Kate!)
I am a June graduate of Ecolechocolate professional chocolatier class. I think the class was well worth the money and time investment. The instructors are very knowledgable and available for comment, questions, etc. And like all other classes/courses - if you follow the material, complete the lessons and do the required practicing, it has value. Because the instructions are so detailed and you are able to work at home with no classroom constraints, the opportunity to make mistakes and learn to correct them is invaluable. This type of opportunity is not presented in the typical classroom at a cooking school as you are expected to 'keep up'. The resource lists are valuable and extensive. I found the discussions from class mates fun and informative.
I took the class only to learn with no intention of starting a business - I am one of those who is constantly looking for new challenges - and this was a certainly a challenge. I had worked some with chocolate, in baking and pastries, but the classes exposed me to a whole new dimension .
Hope this is helpful.
I am very new to this site, I would just like to give you a little more background on choosing a chocolate. As I am a accomplished master chocolatier for many years. When it comes to high end chocolate choose what you like, don't worry about the names of what others tell you. When you are talking about high end chocolate is really is going to come down to what you like and like to work with. The site you are learning on is a good way to start, but there are too many different factors that can and will happen when learning to become a chocolatier, best advice is find a part time job at a local high end chocolate shop.

Cocoa Barry, flechin, callebaut are some of the best, I am sorry to say valhrona, sharffenberger are not really high end they are just famous names with a low quality product.
"don't worry about the names of what others tell you."

combined with...

"Cocoa Barry, flechin, callebaut are some of the best, I am sorry to say valhrona, sharffenberger are not really high end they are just famous names with a low quality product."

You've got my vote for "Troll of the Year," not bad for your first and only post.


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