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Best Bean Sources for Artisan Chocolate making

I just got back from the Big Island in Hawaii, visited with a few farmers and chocoalte makers, while our chefs did three pastry and chocolate demos in Maui, Kona, and Honolulu. What a great experience, and what a motivation for me to get to know more about the growing, fermenting, and drying of not just cacao beans, but also the amazing and creative means people have of making their own chocolate. I have seen many huge production factories all over the world, but never have I experienced true chocolate making like I did in a few hours with my new freind Sharky near Hilo. Now my hunt must continue, to find more Sharky's around the world, and find a selection of say 10 of the most exotic top quality beans so I can fulfill my dream of producing the best possible chocolate possible, here in Southern California. Anyone knowing where I can find and experience some of the best beans on the planet, please let me know, and I will keep you up to date on my progress in sourcing the most advanced equipment that will enable me to make, from a mechanical standpoint, the very best chocolate

 

 

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Comment by cheebs on June 17, 2011 at 9:23am
That winnower looks identical to the CPS unit, which has had terrible reviews.  Brad Churchill bought one and hated it.
Comment by Richard Foley on June 17, 2011 at 7:53am
Does anyone have any experience with these winnowers

http://www.capco.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Cocoa_Winnower_8.html
Comment by Jeff Stern on June 10, 2011 at 1:22pm

Hi Richard:

 

I can definitely help you source beans from Ecuador from as many, or as few, regions as you'd like. I'll bring you a few samples in August when we meet and hope to be able to participate in this new venture!

Comment by Jim on June 10, 2011 at 10:47am

Richard,

I am a cacau producer in Brazil and our primary objective is Quality. The beans are Forestero or a derivative of Scavina-6. In 2010 we were awarded "Cocoa of Excellence" at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris. We have been selected by CIRAD to present our cacau beans again this year in Paris.

 

I have no doubts that our products are equal in quality to the top world producers. Whether you are satisfied with the taste, small and flavor is a subjective decision you need to make. I would like to exchange correspondence and see if we have common interests. You can send direct to my e-address  Cacaufarmer@yahoo.com or jimlucas1940@gmail.com.

 

I would be interested in what your operation looks like, where you are located and what type requirements you have established for cacau beans. I look forward to your reply and additional information.

 

Best regards

Jim Lucas

 

Comment by cheebs on June 10, 2011 at 10:34am

Sounds like your business model requires you to travel to the sources and establish direct relationships with the growers.  In any case, it's ultimately your best choice, as it allows you to set down in person your requirements and actually see where your money is going.

Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are all making great strides toward excellent cacao.  You might be well served to visit a few plantations there.  Guatemala is a little behind, but starting to make the effort to improve both the genetic and post-harvest quality of the beans.

I suggest Hugo Hermelink of Finmac in Costa Rica and Frank Homann of Xoco in Honduras.  I can probably get you a name for Nicaragua as well given a little time.  In Guatemala I work with two farms, I can also get you in touch w/the owners.

Comment by Richard Foley on June 10, 2011 at 12:33am
I like the stuff they have at Alchemy, bit pricey. We are used to importing and distribution, so ultimately we want to import our own beans or use a coop of some sort. Our volume won't be huge in first year or so but best we find good direct sources for future needs and understanding sources. For equipment we are looking at Netzch Chocoeasy as well as traditional roller refiners and conches. It is my understanding that the roller refiners contact a much larger particle surface area thus providing smoother, better flow characteristics, and fineness of finished products and contribute to a good conch. anyone with an opinion on this please weigh in. I am taking the Choco easy seminar at end of July and will update on results. Again anyone with good bean sources, from source, please advise, Venezuela, Peru, Equador, Dominican, Madagascar, other quality sources please advise. I want a good variety and quality to start our seminars and testing and teaching with.
Comment by cheebs on June 9, 2011 at 8:25pm

Well for starters there's Chocolate Alchemy, a "one-stop" shop of sorts for small quantities of cacao. I've bought Madagascar and Chuao beans from John and they've both been superb.  As a matter of fact I have a little Tupperware tub right in front of me with roasted Chuao nibs that I can't stop sniffing!  

Someone used to advertise here on this site but I don't see the ad, maybe Clay will chime in.

As far as equipment, it really is your personal choice as a chocolate maker what to get.  Nowadays most of the small-scale gear available will achieve more or less the same end results.  There's also the refurbished older equipment route, lots to choose from.

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