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.