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I was a little perplexed a few months ago while doing a joint chocolate and wine pairing event. The neighbor next to me, a chocolate maker whom shall remain nameless, kept on informing the patrons that they were not re-melters. She made it a point to inform people that their chocolate company actually makes chocolate from the bean. Her insistence on giving out this piece of information and using such a degrading term as 're-melter' didn't sit well with me. By using such an adjective, it belittles the craft of truffle-making and bar blending.

I would love for this young company to go up to a guy like Recchuiti and say, 'Hey man, sit back, you're just a re-melter.'

I make it a point to inform my customers of who's chocolate I use. I do not pretend to be a chocolate maker. This company in question, however, fails to see how they may lose business by the use of such a derogatory word. Do they plan to only make a living my selling direct to the end user (chocolate consumer), becuase I would never endorse any chocolatier to do business with such a company.

What are your thoughts?

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I agree that a nicer term could be used, I have huge respect for truffle makers, I have dabbled a bit but I am terrible at it and that is just physically following a recipe, let alone coming up with recipes, flavour combos, pairing with the type of chocolate. From what I can see it is as difficult if not more so to turn out a perfect truffle than it is to turn out a chocolate bar. You would have to have a considerable task going from bean to truffle commercially I would think - with any level of excellence that is (unless you are bigger and can have a choc manufacturing section and then a truffle manufacture section). I guess this is why there are bean to bar chocolate makers and then there are truffle makers, I don't know a lot that do both, does anyone? Actually Haighs here in Adelaide does both but they just make two basic chocolates milk and dark and then blend from there, no single origin stuff or anything. And their stuff ain't that great - hence my use of 'level of excellence'.
Hi Tom,

The below is true to the best of my knowledge:

Michel Cluizel: makes all chocolate and bonbons
Amedei: makes all chocolate and bonbons
Theo: makes all chocolate and bonbons
Coppeneur: makes all chocolate and bonbons
Pralus: makes all chocolate and bonbons
Pierre Marcolini: Makes some chocolate and bonbons
Escazu: Makes some chocolate and bonbons (two different product lines)
Soma Chocolate Maker: Makes some chocolate and bonbons

Of course I may be missing one or two, but that is most of them. They all make bonbons to different degrees. Some companies have huge lines, and others much smaller ranges.
Thanks Alan, I did know a few of them come to think of it - they are all pretty big companies though. I did forget one smaller one and that is run by Brad Churchill at Choklat in Canada (www.sochoklat.com).
I agree with you Tom. As a home chocolate maker, from the bean, it is not easy to then learn all necessary to make a good truffle. But check this out:

Jeff Stern has an interesting concept; single origin confections and appears to be involved in bean to bonbon process.

http://www.aequarechocolates.com/content.php?cms_id=2

"Aequare participates in almost the entire process from bean to final product in the country of origin."

I think more people will be trying this but they have a tough road ahead. I'm putting an order in for some of Jeff's confections as soon as he gets an order site up and running.
Hi Frank,

The sentence that you quoted isn't incredibly clear. What does "participates in the entire process" mean exactly?

Bean-to-bar, as you know, means starting with cocoa beans and ending with finished chocolate bars in one facility. If parts of the process are contracted out, then it may be great chocolate, it may be the best chocolate in the world even, but it isn't bean-to-bar. The same goes for bean-to-bonbon.

I am getting annoyed with new companies intimating that they do the whole process when they actually don't. Why do I care? Because, as you mention, it is a tough road, and I would prefer that people who aren't doing it not get credit for doing it when there are people who actually do, and are being honest about it.

That said, maybe Jeff is selling himself short, and he just needs to more clearly say: "We do honest to goodness bean-to-bonbon chocolate production." That would be an exciting thing, and more power to him no matter what he does, but I would just like to see more clarity in marketing from new and existing chocolate companies, and this is a perfect example.

In short, I just think that it should be easy enough to make a clear and unequivocal statement about what one does.

Best,

Alan
makes sense to me alan....

We are making our first batches of ganache and bon bons from our own "bean to bar" chocolate this week.......the ocumare is outstanding....bean to bar is pain in the ass to get right so you go man, you go.....
Hi Alan.
I just stumbled on this discussion, and would like to contribute a perspective. When you state: "Bean-to-bar, as you know, means starting with cocoa beans and ending with finished chocolate bars in one facility.", do you really feel that it must be made in one facility?

For example, my shop is quite small. I am in the process of setting up a production space in a less expensive non retail area where we will make all of the chocolate we use entirely from the bean. Although I will be making bars at this location, I will be sending chocolate over to the retail shop for them to make the confections that they sell. So by your definition, is it not "bean to bon-bon"?

As you know, to make any real volume the equipment can get pretty big. Although I wish that I could afford a large space in a high rent retail district so that people could actually see the process, at this point its not in the cards.

I completely agree with you regarding all of the confusing and even misleading info that people put out about their operation. Sometimes, however, other people and publications unintentionally create the confusion. I have always been concerned about the fact that we have been doing both bean to bar for 1 line, and using couverture for what I consider a confectionary line. I ALWAYS correct people if they assume that Escazu has always been bean to bar, but it isnt always enough.

It's for this reason that we have decided to change the name of the business when we fully transition to making all of our chocolate. The new company will be called Ezca Chocolates, and Escazu will be a brand of that company. I sincerely hope that this will clear up any confusion that people have with us.

Take care,
Hallot
Hallot:

For what it's worth, my definition of bean to bar has never included the concept that it must all be done in one facility - just that you have to "own" all the processes involved. In other words, the company that's claiming to do the bean to bar thing must clean, roast, crack/winnow, grind, refine, and conch the chocolate to a finished, edible state.

All of the above steps must be done by the company laying claim to bean-to-bar or it's not. I don't think it has to be done all in one building. It doesn't count if you send the beans out to be roasted under contract to your specs. Bean-to-bar means 100% traceable to the company making the claim.

I really don't care if the chocolate then gets tempered into retail bars or some other form (bar, disk, pellet) that gets sold and melted to be used in something else, though some people assume that bean-to-bar means bean-to-retail bar.

So in the case of your making the chocolate and sending it to the shop to be made into bonbons - it's still bean to bar as long as you're doing all of the work in-house (even if it's more than one house).

I hope this helps your thinking on this.

:: Clay
Hi Hallot,

Thank you for your comment.

I agree. I definitely should have said: "Bean-to-bar means starting with cocoa beans and ending with finished chocolate bars in a facility or facilities owned by one single company."

I agree that "one facility" isn't the important issue, and that one company that owns multiple facilities, such as yourself, definitely still "makes chocolate from bean to bar or from bean to bonbon as the case may be. I agree with Clay's definition below. However, I would add a little more clarification and say that "bean-to-bar" should definitely mean that one molds tempered chocolate in some way. In other words, if a company makes chocolate and then ships it off to be molded into bars by another company, under contract, then doesn't count as bean-to-bar.

I can think of a likely situation where all of this gets even more complicated. For example, take the case of a company that molds tempered blocks of chocolate that it has made to be sold to other companies, but also ships off some of that chocolate to be molded under contract into retail bars under its own brand name. In this case, I would say that though the company in question is basically a bean-to-bar company, for them to simply make such a claim without clarification would likely confuse their customers into thinking that they mold their own retail bars. Since this would be untrue, I am arguing that it would be ethically inappropriate for them to make such a claim without some sort of disclaimer--perhaps on their bar packaging, such as:

"Molded into bars for X Company by Y company."

I don't think that the end consumer should be put in the position, by language used by the company, or conveniently not used, of reasonably believing that something is true when it actually is not.

Best,

Alan

P.S. I don't blame companies for the mistaken claims of others as long as the company has done their best to correct them. It is inevitable that things will be said or written about a company that are not completely true. That said, especially when dealing with the press, which is apt to reach a large number of people, I think that it is particularly important that we should really make an effort to clarify for them what it is that we do and don't do. It is too bad that we can't count on most of the press to do their homework and simply get it right, but they have proven over and over again, that as a group, they simply make factual errors all too often. So, I think it must become our job, as industry insiders, to police them since they don't police themselves effectively. It's too bad too; I've got other things to do.

P.P.S If you are a journalist and never make factual errors then you have my utmost respect.
Alan, your points really illustrate how difficult it is for small producers to go head to head with a well financed larger company.

As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that this is really what defines an "artisan" chocolate business from just a chocolate business. When I make a bar, regardless of whether it is with my chocolate or with couverture, I am putting my energy into making something that is to the best standard that I am capable of. I think we all make chocolate because it feels good somewhere inside. Other companies are in the business of chocolate and spend their energy marketing products in a way that takes advantage of the niche market that has been created by you and others. They are effective because they have the budget and the advertising.

A certain well financed chocolate company with a misleading Venezuelan name uses the same couverture that I have been making confectionary bars with for 4 years. The bars are the same size yet they charge nearly $2.00 a bar more than we do. Based on the packaging, I'm not sure that the average person who isnt in the industry would be able to discern that they are not making that chocolate, and the value for the product is horrible.

OK, sorry for the rant! I wont even get started on NOKA.

Hallot
Escazu Chocolates
Hallot:

It's okay to name names here. It's in the best interests of transparency all the way around. Does the company name by any chance begin with with the same letter as the state they're HQd in which just happens to be the first letter of the word chocolate?

:: Clay
Indeed! Yeah, its Chuao. I dont know those guys, and they may be the nicest people in the world, but I know what they pay for ingredients, and in my opinion they do over charge. I guess the market proves me wrong though, because they are certainly more successful than I.

Also, and I admit this is sour grapes on my part, but you are not allowed to claim a trademark on a name that refers to a geographical area. If you look up their trademark status, they claim that the word Chuao means "chocolatier". It must be in a language that they invented because everyone knows that Chuao is a region in Venezuela known almost exclusively for cacao. They even admit this in their literature. This is another example of how being able to hire a professional to handle these issues allows you great advantages over those of us who bootstrap.

Hallot

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