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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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And this just in from Timothy's Facebook page (March 26, 2009):

"Timothy Childs is waiting as Ecuadorian customs is xraying and searching 12 boxes of cocoa liquor."

So not only are they roasting in Ecuador they are grinding (which makes total sense). But - to be fair, the site says, "TCHO is direct, transparent connection between the farmers and the consumers, from the pod to the palate, from high concept to sensual experience." They don't claim (at least here) to do 100% of the manufacturing in the SF plant. Notwithstanding, I don't think they are bean-to-bar in the accepted definition of owning all the manufacturing plant.
Not knowing anything about the company, my guess is she might have been too "lazy" to explain "we're a bean to bar chocolate maker." Before Scharffen Berger I can't think of small companies encountering that issue of having to explain that they make the chocolate as well as what's inside. In fact many were the times I'd ask a confectioner where their chocolate was from and they'd say "we make it. we make it" until I made it completely clear I was referring to the couverture, not the fillings.

While Wikipedia alludes to "chocolate makers" there is not an entry for this phrase.
Whoever is motivated enough can educate people about "chocolate makers" which will eliminate the need for the "re-melting" explanations.
Hi Mindy,

Probably not the best use of terms to make the distinction. It sounds like she was a bit on the defensive. I always put it as, there are two art forms to chocolate and that of the chocolatier is truly artisan. As a new chocolate maker I frequently get questions about the difference and did face opposition from local chocolatiers at first. Whether they intend to sell to chocolatiers or not, it's always best to take the high road either way, in my humble opinion.

On another note, I had somewhat similar situation at a Slow Food event, where I was put up against Xocai, they couldn't say the name so they just called it "healthy chocolate". I was representing the "un-healthy" chocolate of course. I was bombarded from the start with all of their talking points on what I do that makes chocolate bad for you.
I make many "chocolate products" but I don't make any chocolate. I am proud of this. I focus on my specialty of finding wonderful combinations for my treats and proudly announce that I used "insert company name here" for this and "insert company name here" for that. I have worked with a few bean to bar chocolate makers and I will, happily leave that art form to them while I work on my own.

With regards to Xocai, I use the darkest roasted cacao beans on the planet, to the best of my knowledge, for one of my products and I have had it analyzed. Xocai reps are always very upset when I show them how high my ORAC scores are. IF you are going to eat chocolate for health benefits, just eat darker chocolate. I on the other hand will enjoy my Domori, Pralus, Amano, Patric, Amadei.... and many other amazing chocolates!!!
I always explain that I am a confection maker and use chocolates from around the world that enhance a particular flavor I am working with.I do carry bars from various artisan chocolate makers both local and elsewhere that make their bars from the bean...and some actually grow it (local) as well.
her statement was lazy and ignorant and who really cares what she says. It is one person that really doesn't affect the rest of us.

I think I will embrace my "inner fonduer"
Melanie: I agree with you on most points.

However, it is important to note how others represent themselves because in some cases they have the money and/or visibility to alter a market view and make it more difficult for everyone else to compete.

I've said elsewhere that one of Guittard's biggest goofs was not to immediately start making a product to compete with Scharffen Berger once they stopped making chocolate for them. That gave Scharffen Berger the opportunity and time to define what "good" chocolate was. "Good" chocolate had lots of big, bright, red fruit flavors in it. If another chocolate didn't taste like Scharffen Berger it wasn't good chocolate.

For a representative of TCHO to make remarks like this - unchecked - has the potential to do a disservice because they are very good at using the Internet to build awareness and a loyal customer base and therefore have the ability to change the way people think about chocolate. We know that they want to do this because they are staying away from percentages and origins and adopting a new kind of naming system for their chocolate. This is smart if they can get people to adopt their language because it puts everyone else at a disadvantage.

While I do believe that TCHO intends to become a fully integrated bean-to-bar manufacturer, at the moment I do not believe [Note to Timothy, Louis, et al, please let us know if I am wrong here.] that they are roasting their own beans in their own equipment in their own factory. IIRC, beans are roasted by others "according to proprietary protocols" and then ground into liquor. The liquor is transported to the factory in SF where it is converted into finished chocolate and molded.

For a rep of TCHO to refer to a chocolatier as "merely" a "re-melter" is a little disingenuous IF in fact TCHO "merely" makes chocolate from liquor while implying that they are making it from beans.

I believe, and I think virtually everyone else in the community agrees with me, that a "true" bean to bar manufacturer owns all of the equipment and personally performs all of the processes to convert raw beans to finished chocolate. They do not outsource any part of it. (As far as I am concerned, wrapping is immaterial to the process of making chocolate, so I don't include that in the requirement to be a "true" bean to bar manufacturer.)
Apples and oranges. They are both different and both difficult to achieve.
Hi Mindy

Love this discussion! Thanks for posting the question. I consider myself a chocolatier, of course not a chocolate maker. In my mind me these are 2 different businesses. I had a conversation this morning with someone at Guittard, my chocolate supplier. He seems to think we are competitors. I think the contrary. We should work together to promote each other. Now if Guittard were to start making truffles, things would be different ;)
I'm a consumer of chocolate bars and prefer chocolate over chocolate confections but enjoy and consume both. Back to Mindy's original issue: the term re-melter is a blunt way for bean-to-bar producers to position themselves in a very competitive market. Various high quality brands of chocolate bars in North America may use the same Euro-sourced organic couvateur to produce their products. They may differentiate via % chocolate, packaging, distribution chanels and other marketing activities but essentially there is little difference in their products. They can legitamately be called re-melters. Bean-to-bar producers differentiate based on the type, quality and origin of the fruit, the processing/fermentation/handling at the source, the style and skill of the chocolate-maker at the production facility - plus effective branding, packaging, distribution etc. It is through their efforts that chocolate consumers can experience, enjoy and learn about the delightful variations in aroma, taste and texture of this most remarkable fruit.
They can be called re-melters, yes, but this term only includes that portion of their profession. Other parts are involved in attaining a final product. Confection Recipe inventers would be an appropriate term as well, as would Decorators of confections, Blender of various chocolates...

The problem with "re-melter" is that it causes an assumption that the chocolatier just melts the chocolate (can even exclude tempering), pours it in a plain bar mold and sells this product. It does not include all the many facets and thought involved. The part of their job that most chocolatiers love is the creativity and invention and this is why the term "re-melter" is annoying.
To clarify one of your points, from what I know, most bean-to-bar makers do not participate in the post-harvest handling of the beans which includes fermentation and drying, unless they own a cocoa plantation or have a very close relationship with the grower, and are on the ground at the time of harvest and post-harvest, which can be a period of several weeks 2x a year.
Jeff, I dont think that anyone would deny that you are doing something unique down there, and should definitely educate your customers to that effect. FYI, I think Steve Devries does some of that. I know he is even splicing his own clones in Costa Rica.
I read Alan's comments as a frustration which I share, and has to do with a chocolate company putting out a product with a lot of high dollar marketing and packaging, and which uses a lot of ambiguous language to trick the customers into thinking that they are something that they are not. Some of these companies are not even molding their bars, but simply devise flavor combos, packaging and then have a factory make and package the bars.
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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