In another discussion here on TheChocolateLife, member Mahmoud Baktaji asked about existing bean-to-bar chocolate schools to attend.
Based on responses to that post, I thought it would be interesting to ask the question directly to members:
If someone was going to be developing a hands-on bean-to-bar chocolate school, what would/should the curriculum include? What would be a good location for it? What techniques and equipment should be covered? And -- finally and importantly -- what would you be willing to pay to attend such a school?
Seems to me (as a beginner/hobbyist) that multiple classes might be good.
One class that focuses on the "art" of making chocolate from bean and another that focuses on the business side of things.
As a hobbyist I am currently most concerned with making good chocolate. So roasting profiles, winnowing tools and techniques, refining approaches are all big questions on my list. My goal would be to learn and improve my technique before developing bad habits. Then I can continue to refine my skills until I am ready to take the next step.
At that point I would be interested in the business side. Where I am going to have a whole lot of other questions about bean sourcing in volume, equipment to use, costs / revenue / money stuff, marketing / promotion, etc...
Having said that, the price I would pay for each half is quite different. There are a lot of sources online for getting started with the art side. A little reading and an open mind for experimenting has got me making bars that get a favorable review. So unless it could help me get to the next level in quality I would not look to pay too much. Certainly under 1,000 USD. However for the valuable business insights I would happily pay a lot more. After all, if I am going to invest tens of thousands in equipment and rent 5,000 USD for hard to find knowledge is well worth it, as Brad covers above.
I think the actual making of chocolate could even be broken into seperate courses itself - especially if you are talking making hobby chocolate at home versus making chocolate commercially.
I agree. I am sure there are plenty of issues that come up when you scale to a production level that a hobbyist would not be worried about. Everything from storage of the beans and completed chocolate to efficiencies you can leverage when making large batches and even wrapping choices.
There are VERY significant business differences between a home hobbyist, a small artisan, a commercial artisan, and a mass producer of chocolate confections.
However there is almost NO difference between a home artisan and a mass producer of chooclate with the exception of the size of the equipment used. The end result is always the same, and uses the exact same ingredients to make one product and one product only: chocolate.
Scaling a chocolatier is very, very different than scaling a chocolate maker.
Would anyone in North America (or elsewhere but preferably in English), be willing to run a course, or know of a course or place for training in Bean to Bar? I am applying for funding to attend training. I am also happy to Stage somewhere to learn too.
Any info would be fantastic.
P.s in regards to what I would pay- between $3000 and $5000 for a course which covers everything from understanding beans, selecting, roasting and everything to final product- hopefully also covers which machinery is best suited but happy to pay someone separately for that information.
école chocolat runs a bean to bar course for around $450 Its entirely online and runs over the course of a few months. I think the next one starts in september. For the money it provides a wealth of information and very good introduction to the world of making chocolate. Not equipment training per say or recommendations in any one direction, with the exception of tutor feedback, but very neutral information in all aspects of the industry and a good broad outline with lots of resources. A good start I would say, which does cover everything you mentioned above.
I just came across all of this and all advice is very good,being on the other end of chocolate a consumer who loves good chocolate and a chocolate personal shopper. In the end,the chocolate bars have to taste good. Much hard works goes into making the bars and it is also an art with science thrown in. I have tasted many bars along the way and can now tell if something is off.So after all the courses much practice and good tasting beans.It is hard to know which course would be good,how much info is there, but I do hope that there will be more bean to bar courses for the people who wish to get into this so that the consumers like myself can keep on buying and tasting bars.