The Chocolate Life

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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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To my mind, if at some point in your business, you have not sat at a table folding bars for hours on end, you just havent earned it!
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Here, here!
We are packing bars by hand at this very moment! We also make and pack everything here by hand, box it up, and send it out to the US. I understand your point, and we are going to do our best to provide transparency in our upcoming launch and following marketing campaign.

Are your boxes precut and glued? Because I am embarressed to show a picture of my packaging room. I delayed cleaning up all of the "cuttings" because I was really curious to see how much paper was getting wasted and how many packages I needed to cut in order to be able to swim in it- so far I'm 300 in and it's only a kiddie pool!
They are indeed precut and glued.
Jeff: I am lucky to enjoy world class bean-to-bar chocolate every day much of which (not most of which as you correctly note) is produced by chocolate makers (not chocolatiers/confectioners) who do monitor if not control post-harvest processing. Valhrona, Amadai, MC, Devries, and others are directly engaged with the farmers for some of their products. Volker Lehmann's success with Felchelin's Cru Sauvage is a good example. Closer to the source are Grenada, Kallari and other small-scale vertically integrated tree-to-bar producers. Every chocolate bar has a soul - some greater, some lesser. The greater souls emerge in all their splendor from the caring efforts of the humans entrusted with post-harvest handling, especially culling and fermentation. What happens later may or may not yield excellence. But without a fruitful beginning, the potential for truely soulful distinctiveness is diminished.
I like this..."tree to bar" producer. Much more accurate. Thanks for the info.
My 2 cents-
There is a lot that the people chocovore listed as producers do to the chocolate. Some are connected with the source, others buy brokered cacao. Either way the manufacturer has a product, that if tasted raw and unroasted would have a very small market, (raw food people I guess). A lot happens to those well fermented or poorly fermented cocoa beans and that is the art of chocolate. Each of the makers listed have a style that regardless of cacao is recognizable (textures, flavors, roasts etc)

The fact that they have a style and can be a part of the whole process demonstates skill of the trade.

In another thread I quoted Art Pollard of Amano, "The problem with chocolate, is that every step is the most important step".

So it's hard to do everything-and that's ok. But the people who do everything, and do it right, deserve the recognition for it. (isn't there a database for this somewhere?! Shouldn't that be authoritative?!)

And the people who don't do everything, that's also ok.
(They'll be the "star belly sneetches" in the database)
To follow up on Clay's and others' comments about TCHO -

Except for our Ghanian "Chocolatey," we source our beans directly from farmers. Indeed, in Peru, we work directly with coops to improve fermentation and drying. We take ownership of those beans, which we use to make our "Fruity" and "Nutty" chocolates, as well as the Madagascar beans we use to make our "Citrus" chocolate, and then arrange their transport to roasting facilities.

At those facilities, one or the other or both of our co-founders Karl Bittong and Timothy Childs fly in and personally direct the roasts, implementing process and protocols that we developed in our lab specifically for those beans. Indeed, three of the four roasting facilities we use were actually designed and installed by Karl over his long career. Back in SF, we turn the liquor we created into our chocolate.

Ghana is a special case because the sale of beans is a government monopoly; in that case, co-founder Karl Bittong oversees the selection of our beans in person at government warehouses, then directs the roasting of those beans in a Ghanaian facility he built.

So, while it is true that our roasting facility is not yet online here in SF, we are certainly roasting our own beans, overseeing the production of our own liquor, and making our own chocolate, just like other bean-to-bar manufacturers.

As to the reported comment by a TCHO representative which kicked off this discussion -- over the past three amazing years, we have built a company that joins just a handful of others who are so obsessed with controlling the quality of their chocolate that they actually manufacture it from scratch. This has been incredibly hard -- requiring that we find and develop source at origin, deal with the logistics of supply chains that literally stretch around the world from Madagascar to Amsterdam to Peru to Ecuador to SF, develop roasting profiles and protocols in lab, oversee roasts on equipment that's four stories tall, then refine and conch the liquor we make to flavor profiles we developed over months in the lab and in collaboration with our Beta tasters, before finally molding and wrapping it in packaging we've designed and printed ourselves.

I don't know what our representative said at that event, I wasn't there, but her comments about being a manufacturer, as opposed to a maker, may have been taken for arrogance when, in fact, they might have just been pride.
Ooh everyone.

Just when I think Im going bonkers in my own little endeavours, I log on to the Chocolate Life and realize -truly- Im not alone.

After all this, my question is one of semantics. Can you really say re-melter or is that like saying 'unexpected surprise'. Was the initial product (cocoa liquor -wherever it appeared in the process) ever actually in a melted state, before becoming a solid which goes on to be melted by chocolatiers/fondeurs? Or was it pulverized, liquefied, warmed by mechanical friction...

I think re-melter is just an ugly word, if its even a real word. It makes me think of sitting over the chocolate in dirty coveralls with a dangling smoke.

But that aside, Im with holycacao.
Some people do everything and obsess over every step, and some people make a lot of money on great marketing. Its ok either way, and in the end there's buyers at both ends. (Dove commercial just came on tv) Most of us try to eek out a living somewhere in the middle.

Im just excited to be doing it in a time where we can be connected in this forum and see what others are doing via the internet. Its all just amazing. When are all you American chocolate makers going to get some distribution in Canada?
Send me a message. Patric Chocolate is available in Canada.
"It makes me think of sitting over the chocolate in dirty coveralls with a dangling smoke."

To be fair, not smoking while working just allows things like aroma and flavor to get in the way. ;)
My point is not to single out a certian person within the Tcho company. My point is that Tcho chooses to use the word 're-melter' than any other term. This can be found on your website, on your printed material and spoken directly to customers by Tcho representatives. Yes, Tcho is doing innovative things by marketing by flavor descriptors over cocoa percentages. Great. But mainstreaming 're-melter' may be a bit harder to accomplish. No doubt, as you have read in other people's comments on this thread, not all, but others do agree that the term 're-melter' connotates a certain arrogance by the peron using the term. I'm put my money that no chocolatier doing business in the US prefers to use the term 're-melter'. It's great to take pride in any accomplishments that you do, but my feeling is that there's a layer of arrogance to go along with it.

Just my personal feelings. I recognize that it's Tcho's marketing strategy to separate themselves as a chocolate maker over the vast majority of chocolatiers.

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