Bean to Bar Chocolate differs from other kinds of chocolate as the bean to bar chocolate makers are involved in the whole chocolate making process from roasting to packaging, and the chocolate is made in small batches. Other chocolatiers may buy chocolate that has already been made or formed and then mold it into bars. The bean to bar chocolate making movement is basically a movement to make chocolate from scratch to provide a better chocolate experience for people to enjoy. The process of making chocolate normally starts with roasting top-quality cacao beans. Once they’re roasted, they are cracked and winnowed and then ground into chocolate liquor. By starting the chocolate-making process this way, these “chocolate artists” have much more control in the development of flavor in the chocolate bar. This is why bean to bar chocolate is known to have a much deeper, richer, and nuanced flavor than other kinds of chocolate.
After it is made into chocolate liquor, the chocolate is conched, meaning it is blended with other ingredients to sweeten it like sugar, flavor it like vanilla, or milk is added for milk chocolate. The chocolate is then refined for things like texture and then mixed and melted (or “conched”) at high temperatures. The chocolate is then tempered which is a process of cooling, warming, and then cooling it off again before other final ingredients are added (like nuts for example) and poured into molds and then cooled until it becomes solid.
The American Bean to Bar Chocolate movement is in full swing. It is not that different from what happened with wine making in America in the mid-twentieth century; a growing interest took hold on wines from the U.S. and California when wine-making techniques were improved. Today in New York, there are many great, home-grown bean to bar chocolate makers. The Mast Bothers are the most famous bean to bar chocolate makers from New York. Rick and Michael Mast began making chocolate in Brooklyn in 2007 and are considered pioneers in the bean to bar chocolate movement and symbols of success for artisanal chocolate in the Brooklyn food scene. Jacques Torres Chocolate in NYC now has five locations, and even with its success and recent growth their chocolates are still artisan-made. It was founded by master pastry chef Jacques Torres who grew up in France and in addition to selling bean-to-bar chocolate also sells champagne truffles, drinking chocolate, and other chocolate delights. Raaka chocolate in Red Hook, Brooklyn NY is also a great bean-to bar chocolate maker and makes chocolate by hand in micro-batches from virgin chocolate. Unlike bean to bar chocolate that is made from roasted cacao beans, Raaka’s chocolate instead takes high-quality cacao beans through the winnowing, grinding, milling and tempering stages without roasting them first. Cocoa Prieto and Sol Cacao are also well-known bean to bar chocolate makers based in New York.