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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 want to clarify what I meant by "Aequare participates in almost the entire process from bean to final product ..."

Aequare does not buy beans and we do not process them ourselves. That said we do have a unique position, in that I personally know who's growing my beans (or where they are specifically coming from - this depends on the product I am using), under what conditions, and how and when they are harvested and fermented. I don't think there are many, if any, chocolatiers out there who are on the ground producing a product in the country of origin who are as closely involved or personally connected with the product from start to finish as we are.

I have visited the farms and areas the beans come from, and frequently meet and talk with the growers. I personally know the processor of the beans, have visited the plant where they are processed (and can stop in any time I wish), and know the people involved in the processing. We neither supervise nor give instruction on the processing of the beans. I let all the individuals involved do what they do best - the grower grows, harvests, ferments, and dries; the processor roasts and processes the beans based on input from the grower, who's judgment I clearly trust, as he has more than 30 years experience in the cocoa/chocolate industry (which I do not), mostly here in Ecuador .

I then acquire the finished couverture directly from the grower, as it's a product he follows through processing-he's not selling his beans to be processed, he's paying them to make couverture for him to his specifications, with the help of their equipment and expertise.

It's at this point where my hand in completing the final product takes over; Aequare makes bars and confections from the chocolate - and given my accounting of our relationships with growers and processors, I think it's fair to say that Aequare is involved with the entire process. I think I would be selling myself short, as you so succinctly puts it, if I didn't somehow say I participated in the entire process, since I am clearly on the ground and able to witness, judge, taste, and give my input where and when I feel competent to do so.

If you can suggest a better way to describe what it is Aequare Chocolates does, I would be happy to consider it in order to provide our customers with a more accurate representation of our activities.
Hi Jeff,

I appreciate your response and the additional information.

I'd still say the following: If the average person is likely to think that you are doing something that you are not doing, even if you don't specifically say so, then clarification is needed in your statements. Frank Schmidt's comments above are a good example of this. Due to your language, he assumed that you were a "bean-to-bonbon" chocolate maker, and I can see why he would think that, even though you didn't specifically state as much. The problem is the word "involved," which is so general as to mean just about anything. I think that in order for that statement not to be potentially misleading, then it has got to be clarified with more context.
The same problem exists with the word "participates" in your original wording.

Given what you have told us above, one example might be:

"We have a direct and open relationship with the manufacturer of the chocolate we use and the farmer whose cacao is made into that chocolate. We feel that this relationship ultimately plays a very important role in the quality of our resulting chocolate confections."

There are undoubtedly a million other ways to word things, but I think that the above example gets across the truth of the matter, as well as what you feel is important, and what you were trying to share in your original wording.

Here are some additional examples of what I see as lack of clarity in your wording. From your site:

"Aequare (Ay-kwar-ay) Fine Chocolates are made from the finest Arriba cacao found only in the lowlands of Ecuador. Redefining conventional production methods, whereby beans are exported to the US or Europe, transformed into chocolate, and then sold in bulk to chocolatiers, Aequare participates in almost the entire process from bean to final product in the country of origin.:

Are your chocolates really made from cacao? Aren't they actually made from chocolate that is made from cacao?

Also, you hold what you are doing in relief to what "others" do, which includes buying bulk chocolate. This makes it sound like you don't buy bulk chocolate, but instead, make it. This isn't helped by the general term "participates."

"Aequare’s single origin Arriba chocolate is sourced from Ecuador’s Los Rios province. Rooted with a deep sense of cultural history, cacao has been grown in this region for over two centuries. It is considered by connoisseurs to be among the finest and rarest in the world. The cacao is made into chocolate locally, then delicately hand-crafted in small batches into the fines"

I understand that you may be trying to clarify here, but why not just be consistently clear across every paragraph?

Also, this might just be my problem, but when people say "our chocolate" when they don't make it, I kind of cringe. I know that they mean: "The chocolate that we use," but not everyone realizes that. Why not simply say that you looked around for some of the best chocolate in the world, and found it in the Ecuadorian chocolate that you now use in your products?

I hope that you see my comments as constructive criticism, and not as an attack. I simply want the world of chocolate to be more transparent and honest. Right now, as Devil In An Apron, states, and I think that s/he is right on, the industry is far from being anything close to transparent and honest.

Hi Alan:

Thanks for your input. I do agree some clarification is needed and I will be working on it over the coming months as we begin to roll out the product and hone the story. Your comments are very useful and definitely add to telling the story in a more transparent way.

I suppose those that use sugar from C & H are just re-sweeteners. Please don't tell me someone out here is processing raw cane into sugar, ok, maybe our friend in Hawaii... He could be the nations only purist.
I was certain that I'd read a while back that TCHO was, in fact, a "re-melter," and Jeff's observations would seem to confirm this.

It occurs to me that some of you may not have read the "exposé" on Noka, which is germane and of interest: What's Noka Worth? on
Wow, thanks for the link to 'What's Noka Worth?'. I do highly recommend that all 10 articles be read and I see how this can cause upset to actual chocolate makers like Alan McClure.

Recently one of the Tcho founders, Louis Rosetto, their CEO, stated the following:

"We at TCHO buy our beans directly from farmers or coops, we personally oversee their roasting to our own proprietary roast protocols and profiles, and then we manufacture beans from the liquor made from the roasts."

The roasting and grinding is done overseas as far as I know. So, it seems that they contract to have their cacao roasted and ground in the country of origin according to their specs. They then import the blocks of chocolate liquor, and the chocolate is finished here in the US. I have no doubt that their intention is to do the final steps in their SF facility, but I'm not sure if that is currently the case or not. I would be more than happy for a Tcho representative to clarify all of this. You'll note that I specifically tried to start a dialog in the other thread and Louis never responded.

By the way, as of this moment, Tcho's Twitter description says this:

"TCHO makes obsessively good dark chocolate from pod to palate in our San Francisco factory."

This implies that they also ferment and dry the cacao in their facility in SF. I think that we can quite safely assume that this is not true.

I would like to see more clarity in Tcho's marketing and public statements.

"TCHO makes obsessively good dark chocolate from pod to palate in our San Francisco factory."

This implies that they also ferment and dry the cacao in their facility in SF. I think that we can quite safely assume that this is not true.

I would like to see more clarity in Tcho's marketing and public statements.

Thanks, Alan, for that clarification. I agree with you: more clarity in their marketing campaign would be better.
The whole chocolate industry is built on lies and myth... a few examples:

Calling a particularly cloyingly sugary milk chocolate healthful.

Lying about being bean to bar.

Refusing to disclose which couverture is used.

Spinning couverture: We use Cluizel and Valrhona *cough*andPeters*cough* (guess which makes up about 98% of their product?)

Great-grandmother's recipe that somehow calls for soy lecithin and partially hydrogenated palm oil.

The number of glittering generalities I see... it's rare to find a chocolatier that doesn't allude to making the chocolate, much less actually openly declares their source for chocolate, cream, etc.

And then we have dishonesty in pricing... I'm sorry but anyone who sells for more than 4x cost of materials is, in my opinion, disrespecting their customers and just being greedy. Well, ok it is more complicated than that.

A chocolate company near me sells plain salted caramels... for $5.99. I also offer caramels, same weight for $4.99. Mine use local, small farm, organic cream and organic sugar. Mine come in a slew of flavors with michel cluizel cocoa nibs, laudamio olive oil, organic black forest bacon, highland park single malt scotch, etc. I buy in much smaller quantites even buying some ingredients retail. I had to boost my price, which was originally $3.99 based on my own profitablity calculation, to not just be viewed as a garabge cheap version. I have no idea what price structure they use, but it isn't respectful.

It's gotten to the point where the lies define the industry, because the best liars make the most money.

I wouldn't be surprised if TCHO wasn't more about selling packaging than selling chocolate... look into the owners, you'll be amazed at the connections you find. Doesn't mean I dislike their product, it makes a pretty gift and is marketed in away that could potentially help democratize fine chocolate.

Gosh... I do seem to be in a snarky mood lately.
Where flavor comes from is a huge issue.

Over 90% of my tasters could tell blueberry powder and cocoa powder apart. Over 80% could tell them apart blindfolded. Less than 30% could tell them apart when lighting conditions made the colors indestinguishable.

People will typically report that the same chocolate, in a smaller mould tastes better. (seems more rare and rare must equal good)

If two truffles are compared, identical, except a 30% difference in the water content of the ganache, tasters will almost always prefer the drier (more dense) one if only one of each truffle is made availible. However, if you offer a third truffle after tasting, they will almost always choose the wetter (less dense) one and if they are told up front that they will be getting a third, they will say they prefer the wetter truffle.

Taste buds can be primed and hold illusions, thus tasting chocolates multiple times will lead to different results as will tasting multiple chocolates, even with a palate clense.

It's no wonder people haven't a clue... it's such a shame that people feel the need to further muddy the waters for a few bucks.
From Timothy Childs' Facebook post March 25, 2009"

"Timothy Childs is extremely pleased to be celebrating a very sucessfull [sic] 4-day roasting run of 27 tons of cacao beans here in Guayaquil, Ecuador by having a big nice cold..."

I think it's safe to say that at least 27+ tonnes of their chocolate is not "from pod to palate" in their SF factory.


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