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Hands-on Bean-to-bar Chocolate School: Curriculum, Cost, and more

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?

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Funny you should post this Clay...  Today I was thinking about putting on a 3 day "bean to bar" course, which would have participants do everything from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, and would also include equipment lists, prices from suppliers and so forth - essentially everything they would need to set up their own chocolate business.  All the person would need to do is start making calls and wiring money.


The course would also include an evaluation of various types of equipment, including the plusses and minuses of each, as well as an overview of how to start and run a successful chocolate business.


Full turn key, I was thinking of charging $5,000 per person with a maximum of 3 people per course, and a guarantee that they would save at least $25,000 in unneccessary equipment purchases by taking my course, while at the same time being able to set up a business that could easily handle $500,000 per year in business.


For those truly serious, $5k is a pretty small investment for the information that took me over 3,000 hours to accumulate.


Any thoughts?




What's the value associated with 75,000 hours of experience?


At least a free fireplace mantle!


totally worth it!

Only my opinion, but I wouldn't have thought 3 days is enough to teach someone to make bean to bar chocolate, operate the machinery and how to setup the business. Would you be assuming a certain level of knowledge re some topics?

3 days of hands on, accompanied by some thorough documentation is a heck of a lot of information if delivered property.  Obviously one isn't going to cover all the in's and out's of a business.  I've been starting, financing, and selling businesses for many years and I'm ALWAYS learning something new.  The course would simply be a kick start in the right direction, and solid guidance of where to spend and NOT spend precious seed capital.  The value of the course comes not from what you learn to do, but where you learn to NOT waste money in this case.


Hope that makes sense.

Thank you for the thoughts Brad.  The cost is quite pricey for my little pocket book and especially for only three days to cover such a great amount of materials. I don't feel you can do chocolate making due justice in three days and then pack in all of the business nuggets :) But maybe if you include that fireplace mantle.... :)

I took a  week-long chocolate making course in the U.S. for under $1000 witch also included discussion on the business side and learning experiences/mistakes/recommendations etc from the chocolate maker. The group of students was small and ranged from novice to one student with a chocolate business in England.

Thank you also for the feedback from Brad and Gap too. Good stuff!

Lisa, "quite pricey" is all perception.  Put it this way:

You could by a Netsch chocolate refiner for $75,000.  What if I told you that you could buy a conche/refiner that would do just as good of a job for $30,000 but it would cost you $5,000 to get the information for the company that sells it.  THEN... What if I could give you the contact information of a reputable company that could sell you a conche/refiner for just $6,000 which could do the same thing with almost no maintenance, 24/7 for several years as the $75,000 and the same thing as the $30,000 unit?


All of a sudden paying $11,000 ($5,000 to me and $6,000 for the refiner) to save between $19,000 and $64,000 becomes a FABULOUS deal.


Anything else I offer in my course is just gravy.


Sometimes business is also about saving money, not just making money.




I wish your 3-day course every success!


I'm probably not going to offer a course.  Unless it's something I'm going to do many times over, the up front work isn't economically feasible.  I taught software programming at the University of Calgary for several semesters as a contract instructor, so I'm aware of the up front work that chisels away at the per hour bill rate that one can charge.


The whole purpose of my reply was to put things into perspective.  Sometimes the sticker shock of an item may seem hefty, but when presented with the alternatives and their associated costs, or in this case the cost savings, the price justifies the outcome.


Those who are serious about making chocolate and were at one time prepared to spend the kind of money I mentioned wouldn't hesitate to pay the fee for the course if they knew it was going to save them the cost of the fee 8-10 times over. 


Please don't be offended.


Data such as supplier information is readily available from sites like panjiva, importgenius, etc. that provide import/export details for much less than $5k; sometimes it is even free.

Providing a fee-based business mentoring service may be a better approach for you, Brad. There are lots of business issues not specific to bean-to-bar that many start-ups need guidance in. Marketing, branding, hiring, negotiating, customer service, etc.



Thanks for the feedback.




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