Our cacao beans arrive in 60 kilogram bags. Their transformation into delicious chocolate entails these seven pivotal steps.
Hand sorting our beans is our first step towards integrity. This involves removing any foreign objects like stones or twigs; anything that may have hitched a ride along with our cacao. It's here where we remove any abnormal beans from the mix, to ensure flavour consistency.
Roasting is the most crucial part of our process. We microbatch roast our cacao on trays to ensure an even temperature inside the bean. We perform a series of test roasts, experimenting with temperatures and lengths to find that perfect balance. A selection of these tests will make their way into our small testing refiner, where we take them all the way to finished chocolate. It’s only at this point we select a precise roast profile that captures the honest flavour the cacao beans hold.
Crack & Winnow
This part of the process involves feeding the roasted beans in between two wooden rollers that are rotated by hand. This hands on and measured approach ensures just enough pressure is used to crack the bean, allowing the outer shell to fall away revealing the prized nib. Winnowing is a clever process whereby the cracked beans are draughted through a vertical tube, separating the husk from the unadulterated nib.
Stone Conch & Refine
This is where the magic happens. Conching is a process where the cacao nib is ground between granite stones. The heat and air flow through the nib lift away the more unpleasant flavours while dropping the particle size to a level where we can add our other raw ingredients. Organic cacao butter and organic cane sugar are added at different stages in the refining process, these quantities are carefully tested so we capture the perfect sweetness and mouthfeel. Refining can take up to three days. Towards the end we taste often and measure the particle size, with what is known in the industry as a Grindometer, a little tool that measure the size of the particles. We want a specific smoothness to the chocolate.
Technically, at this point we now have chocolate - but this is where it all begins to take shape. Ageing allows the chocolate to settle into its own, distinct flavour profile, any lingering astringency drops away exposing the fruity, nutty or spicy notes that are carried through from the bean. We pour the chocolate into 5 kilogram blocks, seal and leave for two to three months. While it may vary, we have found this to be an optimal range of time for the chocolate to develop its character.
Temper & Mold
Tempering is by far the most complicated step - a stage where not all chocolate is created equal; a place where (you could say) we’re literally 'setting the bar'. It involves heating and cooling the chocolate to precise temperatures, generating a particular type of crystal structure. Undergone correctly, this process will display the recognisable 'snap' characteristic in the chocolate and give rise to melting at mouth temperature - both telltale signs of chocolate at its best. We use an Italian tempering machine for this, allowing us to dispense the perfect amount of tempered chocolate into our molds.
Wrap, Pack & Ship
Beautifully tempered chocolate will effortlessly pop out of its mold. The bars are carefully inspected and laid onto gold foil, where we hand wrap to lock in the freshness. The golden bars are then placed into our eye catching cartons, expertly fashioned by our favourite Wellington Printer, Valley Print.
And that’s it. From here the bars get boxed up and shipped to you.