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It’s like a beauty pageant.

They come from all over the world, in different shapes, sizes and flavors. When you step into a chocolate store, they are all lined up on the shelves showing off their best features. Some heavily rely on their beautiful design without saying much. Some others have a lot to tell about their story and ingredients. From young amateurs to expert professionals, there is enough space to welcome a wide array of choices.

Who will win the competition?

Shelves full of chocolate bars at The Meadow, fine chocolate store in New York City.

Packaging has always been a hot topic in the fine chocolate industry. After all, it’s a fundamental part in the making of a chocolate bar. It’s the first face of the company that potential customers get to see. Before tasting flavor, consumers taste packaging. Many craft chocolate companies have reported an increase in sales up to 80% since they improved their packaging. It’s clear: we eat with our eyes first. But if packaging is a crucial step for the success of a chocolate company, it is also one of the biggest struggles. 

Balancing price and beauty is not an easy task. Chocolate makers have to find a package that looks pretty, but doesn’t eat up too much of their profit margins. Professional designs, solid materials, expensive textures. Costs can add up quickly. And once you have finally put all the pieces together, how do you know your packaging looks “good enough” to be competitive on the market?

Here are 4 steps you can take to know the truth.

1. PLACE YOUR CHOCOLATE BARS NEXT TO THEIR COMPETITORS

Your chocolate bars might look good all alone in your website. But how would they perform next to their competitors? 

Once your packaging prototype is ready, step into your local chocolate store and physically place your bar next to all the other brands. If you don’t have access to a fine chocolate store, gather all the empty chocolate wrappers in your house from other brands and line them up on a shelf. Then ask yourself:

  • how does my chocolate bar look among its competitors?
  • does it stand out or does it pass unnoticed?
  • does it look cheap or expensive compared to the others?
  • is it similar to other designs or does it have an original look?

If your chocolate bar blends with the background, that’s not a good sign. You might want to opt for brighter colors or bolder letters. There are many themes available: minimalist, monochromatic, colorful, with cacao-related images (farmers, pods, cacao trees), inspired by Pop culture, or with personalized designs that represent the story of the company. Many chocolate makers also choose unusual sizes to stand out. From mini bars to extra large, these are sure to get attention.

2. TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR CHOCOLATE BARS

Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can bring chocolate brands to popularity relatively quickly. The only requirement is that the chocolate bars, on top of tasting good, look good too. If online users feel thrilled to take a picture of your chocolate bars, you can reach great success online.

How to know if your chocolate bars are Instagrammable? Easy, take a picture of them and see how they look! Don’t use professional cameras, fancy equipment or professional lighting. That’s not how Social Media users take pictures. Simply grab your phone and snap a picture without putting too much effort. Then look at the results and ask yourself:

  • how does my chocolate bar look in the picture?
  • would I feel like buying this product if I saw it on Social Media?
  • does my chocolate bar make it for a fun, colorful and attractive picture? Or is it totally ignorable?
Will your customers want to take a picture of your chocolate bars?

Here is what usually makes a chocolate bar worth a photo:

  1. Bright Colors. Social Media is a place where to have fun and take inspiration. Nothing better than packaging that catches the attention and brings vitality to a picture. Avoid dull, low-chroma, bland and dark colors. Go bright, bold and intense instead.
  2. Professional Design. An amateurish design that didn’t cost much can be seen from a distance, and it doesn’t usually bring much success. Hire a designer that knows exactly how to create something aesthetically pleasing based on your desires. This is not the right time to be cheap with something as important as the face of your company.
  3. No Glossy Elements. Any element that reflects the light is a big headache for any photographer. It’s a struggle to catch the right angle, and the picture seldom comes out right. Just don’t include them in your packaging, period.
  4. No Words At The Front Of The Package. Too many written words take the beauty out of even the prettiest design. Include as little info as possible at the front (your brand, cacao%, origin/flavor, weight) and put any extra info (nutritional facts, ingredients list, certifications, storytelling) on the back. Let the design speak for you.
  5. No Transparent Elements. Some say that it is a good thing to see the product before buying it. From a marketing perspective, transparent packaging is a very bad decision when it comes to fine chocolate. The tiniest scratch or crack is exposed and can prevent the purchase of even the most flavorful chocolate. Moreover, transparent packages have no appeal and don’t make you want to take a picture in the first place. 

3. MIMIC THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE

Take your own chocolate bar and act as if you have just bought it in a store. You don’t know anything about this brand. You are going to experience it for the very first time. Sit down and open your own chocolate bar like you would with any other bar on the market. While you do it, ask yourself:

  • am I finding any obstacle or is it a smooth experience?
  • do I have to tear the entire package apart to get to the chocolate?
  • am I breaking the packaging in points where there are precious info that I will not be able to read afterward?
  • do I feel like I am opening an expensive packaging worth the money I paid for it?

Opening a craft chocolate bar should be a wonderful experience. It should make consumers feel a sense of exclusiveness, anticipation and fanciness.  You can also give the chocolate bar to a friend and ask him/her to open it in front of you. Witness their reactions and take notes.

4. ASK THE OPINION OF RETAILERS

When you look for feedback on your packaging, the opinions of friends and family members are the first ones that you are most likely going to seek. Nothing wrong with asking the point of view of people dear to you. But let those opinions be your starting point, not your finish line. The majority of those opinions will either:

  1. not be sincere. Your friends and family care about you and don’t want to hurt your feelings. They will try to sugar-coat what they really think or, on the contrary, be way too harsh and judgmental. 
  2. be sincere, but not useful. Chances are most of your friends and family members don’t work in the chocolate industry. They might have the best intentions to help you, but have no clue about the chocolate market, its rules and players.  

The best point of view you can seek out is the one from fine chocolate retailers.

Retailers don’t assume what consumers like. They KNOW what consumers like. They interact directly with fine chocolate customers, listening to their requests and needs all day every day. They can tell you what packaging works, what brands sell easily, what kind of products fly off the shelves. Their job is to foresee what brands customers will like, and consequently select the best companies to keep in their assortment.

You can approach them directly in their stores (preferably during slow times) and ask their honest opinion on your packaging. You can also email them asking to send them your chocolate for free, specifying that you DO NOT want to convince them to start stocking your bars, but that you are seeking professional feedback and have great esteem for that specific retailer and his/her opinions. Treasure retailers’ pieces of advice. These same people might be selling your chocolate bars one day.

All these steps put you in the perspective of your potential client. This is the person you need to make happy with your chocolate bars. You want a product you can be proud of, but that will also meet consumers’ needs and desires.

So, have your chocolate bars pass these 4 tests? How did they perform? 

What other steps would you suggest to test the beauty of fine chocolate bars?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post 4 Steps To Know If Your Chocolate Bars Look Yay Or Nay appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

4 Steps To Know If Your Chocolate Bars Look Yay Or Nay was first posted on July 12, 2018 at 5:49 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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Do you now that Grenada is called “The Spice Isle”?

If you visit this beautiful land in the middle of the Caribbean, you clearly understand why. Nutmeg, mice, cinnamon, pimento, clove trees, but also ginger, turmeric and bay leaves are grown everywhere. It’s not surprising that there is a Spice Market in the capital Saint George’s entirely dedicated to the sale of these natural flavors.

The most famous of all Grenadian spices is nutmeg, which is largely used in local recipes and products. Nutmeg ice cream, nutmeg syrup and nutmeg juice are extremely popular, and you will also find nutmeg in perfumes, soaps, products for beauty, massages and aromatherapy. There is so much nutmeg on the island that this spice alone accounts for 24% of Grenadian exports! But spices are not the only renowned products grown on the island.

Even though it accounts only for 3.8% of Grenada’s total exports, cacao has become another reason of pride for the island.

100% of cocoa production in Grenada is fine flavor.

Cacao production in Grenada is very limited if compared to other countries of Central and Latin America, but it’s worth noticing that 100% of cacao grown on the island is fine flavor.

There is no trace of bulk or low-quality cacao varieties. The place that Grenada holds in the ICCO’s list of fine flavor cocoa exporting countries is well deserved. This is mainly due to the topography of the island that serves the perfect climate and altitude for cacao trees to thrive. Also, the natural biodiversity in the farms makes it possible for cacao trees to receive great nutrients from the soil and appropriate shade and water, together with all the intriguing flavors of its neighboring trees and plants. This is why Grenadian chocolate is known for its spicy and fruity aromatic components.

Surprisingly enough, appreciation for cacao hasn’t always been a priority in Grenada. It took a man from another land and a radical shift in mentality to discover the potential of Grenadian cacao.

Here is the full story.

THE PAST

While cacao did not originate in the Caribbean, the Spanish introduced the criollo variety of cacao as a crop to the Caribbean in the 1500’s from Venezuela.

Cacao trees were first introduced specifically in Grenada in 1714 by the French who had settled in the island since 1650 (to then cede it to the British in 1763). The geography of the island was perfect: fertile land to grow cacao and great location to export it to Europe. The industry reached great success, and by the 1760s Grenada was the largest producer and exporter of cocoa, responsible for about 50 percent of British West Indian cocoa exports. In 1772, Grenada exported 343,400 pounds of cocoa.

In the following 200 years, the cocoa industry in Grenada experienced mixed fortunes between changes of administration and prices going up and down.

In 1964, the Grenada Cocoa Association was founded. From that moment on, all exports of cocoa (as it happened for many other agricultural products made on the island) had to go through the association to be sold abroad. Cocoa farmers could not decide who to sell to, but could only sell to the GCA at the prices fixed by the association itself. At that time, all cocoa exports went to only 7 countries: UK, Belgium, Holland, US, West Germany, URSS and Canada. In 1983, 22 countries accounted for 98% of Grenadian cacao exports. Not one gram of chocolate had been made on the island yet. All cocoa beans were exported and processed abroad.

It’s in this scenario that an exceptional man arrived in Grenada.

Mott Green, founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company.

David Laurence Friedman, known by many as Mott Green, was not new to Grenada when he decided to move permanently to the island. As a boy, Mott was a frequent visitor to Grenada as his father, the director of medical services at Coney Island Hospital in New York, taught on the island each winter, often bringing his family along.

Visionary, anarchist, idealist, environmentalist. Many appellatives have been given to Mott Green throughout the years, but his actions spoke louder than any nickname he could ever receive.

In 1999, together with Doug Browne and Edmond Brown, he founded the first chocolate making company in a cocoa-producing country: The Grenada Chocolate Company. He realized that cocoa farmers could increase their income by processing the same cocoa beans they were growing. Instead of giving their flavorful cacao away to the Grenada Cocoa Association for a fixed price, they could make chocolate (or semi-processed cocoa products) and increase the value of their beans.

This revolutionary mindset wasn’t received well by the Grenada Cocoa Association, and Mott was opposed in many ways. He had to fight to get a license to start making chocolate, but eventually managed to open the factory in Saint Patrick’s and start producing the first chocolate made in Grenada with Grenadian cacao.

It was the beginning of the tree-to-bar movement in Grenada.

THE PRESENT

In 2018, the Grenada Cocoa Association still holds the monopoly to buy all the cocoa grown on the island, but something has changed. Tired of giving away their precious cacao for mocking prices, Grenadian farmers are tasting the reward of turning their cocoa beans in chocolate and semi-processed cocoa products.

Today, there are 5 tree-to-bar chocolate companies in Grenada.

Crayfish Bay Chocolate – Ten years ago Kim and Lylette Russel started farming this piece of land in Victoria, recovering an old cocoa estate that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The cocoa beans on the farm have turned out to be extremely high-quality, to the point that they spurred the interest of craft bean-to-bar chocolate maker Pump Street Bakery in the UK that has used these beans for its award-winning Crayfish Bay bars.

Following a successful crowd funding campaign, Kim & Lylette have now produced their own charcoal roasted bars at source on the Crayfish Bay organic plantation.

Crayfish Bay 75% dark chocolate.

Certified organic, Kim and Lylette practice their own version of Fairtrade: controls of the lands have been given over to the local people and in return for looking after the lands they receive 90% of the highest current price available for all the wet cocoa and green nutmeg they pick.

Belmont Estate Chocolate – Belmont Estate dates back to the late 1600s during the colonial area. Prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, nutmegs and mace were the number one agricultural products grown on the estate. Nutmeg production has decreased by about 75 percent since then, and cocoa has now replaced nutmegs as their number one agricultural product.

Dried cocoa beans inside the Belmont Estate greenhouse.

One year ago, Belmont Estate set up its bean-to-bar factory only a few steps away from the cocoa plantation and started producing its own craft chocolate. The company now offers a wide assortment of cocoa products, from dark, milk and white chocolate bars to cocoa balls to make cocoa tea. Their most popular bar is the “Pure Grenada”, a dark chocolate that includes the most typical Grenadian spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and ginger).

The Grenada Chocolate Company – This is the first tree-to-bar chocolate ever made on the island. After the death of its founder Mott Green in 2013, the company continues his production under the guidance of Edmond Brown. The co-operative now has over 200 acres of organic cocoa farms which was formed with the objective of ensuring that the farmers would be fairly rewarded for their hard work.

The sign outside The Grenada Chocolate Company factory.

The GCC pays 1EC$ (65%) per lbs more for the beans than the local price and in many of the farms of the co-operative is also involved in the management of the land as well as the planting, growing and harvesting of the cocoa. The cocoa is grown totally naturally without the use of any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers and has been Certified Organic by CERES. The Grenada Chocolate Company bars are exported all over the world. The most popular ones are the Salty-Licious and the Nib-A-Licious bars.

Tri Island Chocolate – The youngest chocolate brand on the island was recently launched on the market on May 12th, 2018. Up until a few years ago, Aaron Sylvester was working in the music industry in London. He then decided to go back to his Grenadian roots and take full advantage of the land that his grandparents Fitzie and Veronica passed down to him. Now cacao farmer and chocolate maker, Aaron offers 3 different chocolate bars: 80% cocoa St. Mark’s, 56% cocoa St. Andrew’s and 75% cocoa St. Andrew’s.

Tri Island chocolate bars made tree to bar in Grenada.

Jouvay Chocolate – Probably the most “industrial” chocolate made on the island, Jouvay Chocolate is manufactured in the Diamond Chocolate Factory, a former rum distillery that was built by French monks in 1774. The brand has a special collaboration with Larry Burdick, founder of L.A. Burdick Chocolate, who uses this coverture made tree-to-bar in Grenada for his creations.

To promote Grenadian cacao and chocolate, the Grenada Chocolate Festival was founded in 2014 by Magdalena Fielden, passionate chocolate lover with Mexican origins and owner of the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort in St. George’s. The festival takes places every year in May and lasts for 9 days. From cacao farm tours to yoga with chocolate, this event offers a 360° experience centered on the Food of the Gods that grows on the island.

THE FUTURE

On February 20th, 2018 the Grenada Cocoa Association has been bailed out by the Grenadian Government. This demonstrated the inefficiency of an organization that, as said by cocoa farmers themselves, has done very little to promote the finesse of Grenadian cacao around the world.

On the other side, the tree-to-bar movement in Grenada has put Grenadian cacao and chocolate on the map and made them famous around the world. It is a primal example of how the value of cacao beans can be increased by making chocolate or semi-products of cacao. The future of chocolate made in Grenada will most likely see an establishment and affirmation on the local market first, followed by increasing exports to satisfy eager chocoholics around the world. Grenada will be forever grateful to Mott Green for saving the cocoa industry on the island, and showing the way for a better future for cocoa farmers.

What is happening in Grenada is following a worldwide trend of cocoa farmers that, tired of giving away their precious cacao for exports, are creating more value for their families, their communities and their countries by making chocolate.

Get your palate ready. More incredible Grenadian chocolate will soon be served on your table!

Have you tried chocolate made in Grenada?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post The Fascinating Story Of Chocolate Made In Grenada appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

The Fascinating Story Of Chocolate Made In Grenada was first posted on June 1, 2018 at 7:46 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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What is a SWOT analysis?

In the marketing field, the SWOT analysis is a tool that allows a business to figure out its internal Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as its external Opportunities and Threats. On one side, the company becomes aware of its advantages and disadvantages compared to the competition. On the other side, the company can take important decisions based on the real opportunities and threats from the market.

How does a SWOT analysis of the craft chocolate industry look like?

Let’s face it: the craft chocolate industry doesn’t appreciate marketing. This is often considered a way to make up for a mediocre product. From the Mast Brothers scandal to the new Ruby Chocolate launched by Callebaut, it’s clear how marketing can bring you a long way even without a brilliant product. But Marketing doesn’t necessarily have to mask a bad product or sell consumers things they don’t need.

Marketing is meant to explore consumers’ needs and behaviors, so that a business can find the most effective ways to communicate the strengths and positive values of its products. The ethical or unethical way in which certain companies use marketing is entirely up to them.

In the craft chocolate industry, the mantra is “produce, produce, produce!”. Profit margins are tight, and those engines need to run like there is no tomorrow! But it might be a good idea to stop those engines for a second and take a moment to analyze what’s happening at a macro level in the market.

Therefore, let’s dive into a SWOT analysis of the craft chocolate industry in 2018.

STRENGTHS

In a SWOT analysis, the Strengths are the characteristics of the business that give it an advantage over others.

Relative to the craft chocolate industry, we can identify the following strengths:

  • Consumers are craving quality in their food.

In today’s food market there is an abundance of foods that are considered nutritionally-empty, of doubtful origin and made with questionable ingredients. Ironically enough, this is bringing consumers to the opposite direction: they now look for quality more than they have ever done in the past. Consumers are religiously checking ingredients list, looking for traceable supply chains and rewarding transparency in a brand.

Craft chocolate (the one made without shortcuts and by expert hands) perfectly satisfies this demand. The flavorful chocolate, the luxury packaging, the faces behind the bar, the health benefits and the strong storytelling all serve well to convince consumers who are looking for quality.

  • Craft chocolate matches popular trends (by default).

Some of the most popular trends in the food industry have started many years ago but are still going strong and in raising demand. Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free and GMO-free are the common labels that consumers are increasingly looking for in their food. The more labels a product is able to incorporate, the larger the number of its potential buyers.

Consumers are willing to spend more money for chocolate that meets their dietary/ethical requirements.

Craft chocolate happens to fulfill many of these requirements by default. A 70% dark chocolate bar made the craft way is most of the times dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and GMO-free without even trying. While many companies must adapt their products to these popular trends, craft chocolate is already set for success.

  • Many professionals sustain the industry.

A large group of individuals and companies are sustaining the craft chocolate industry in different ways. There are those who arrange tastings, conferences and other educational events to spread the culture of fine chocolate. There are festivals and shows organized all around the world to let consumers taste and bring home a higher-quality kind of chocolate. For those who look to strengthen their education, there are courses and online schools that offer professional itineraries. Not to count all the associations that organize conferences for professionals, PHD professors that conduct important research on cacao and chocolate, and bloggers and online personalities who help spread the word.

The craft chocolate industry can count on a large net of passionate people who are committed to its success.

WEAKNESSES

In a SWOT analysis, the Weaknesses are the characteristics of the business that place the business at a disadvantage relative to others.

Relative to the craft chocolate industry, we can identify the following weaknesses:

  • Competition is growing, and the market is getting saturated.

The barriers to entry to become a craft chocolate maker are extremely low. Nowadays, anyone can buy a bag of cacao beans online, a small conching machine and start making and selling chocolate. This is how the most successful brands in the craft chocolate industry actually got started.

This has encouraged many to start a career in chocolate, and has helped creating the market full of alternatives that we know today. However, this also made possible for regular people to become chocolate makers without having to follow a specific learning curve (and without having to wait for a specific level of expertise before they started selling on the market). The result is that the offer has grown more than the demand could possibly ingest. Most consumers still haven’t found good reasons to spend money on good quality chocolate. Therefore, hundreds of craft chocolate brands are now “fighting over” the money of few aficionados.

  • Profit margins are discouraging.

Making chocolate starting from the beans is expensive. From the machines and their maintenance to expensive packaging and high margins to distributors, what remains in the pocket of chocolate makers is only a small piece of the cake. This is the reason why many craft chocolate businesses support themselves with other activities, or manage to break even in the best-case scenarios.

Making craft chocolate is an expensive activity compared to its profit margins.

Making chocolate is usually a loss-making activity. This relegates craft chocolate to being just a hobby or a side hustle for many. The difficulties in creating a profitable business out of craft chocolate is probably the biggest weakness of this industry.

  • Craft chocolate makers lack marketing skills.

Making chocolate is not only an expensive activity, but also one that doesn’t leave much time (or budget) for marketing and promotion. Many times, craft chocolate companies rely on obsolete tools for promotion, don’t take care of their Social Media accounts and provide informative material that is low-quality and barely professional (from newsletters to brochures). Even in distribution and retailing, craft makers often lack a well thought out strategy. They would sell to whoever wants to buy their products, instead of being selective based on their long-term goals as a brand.

In an era where competition is fierce in every field, companies are promoting themselves restlessly and accurately both offline and online. Unfortunately, craft chocolate makers are falling behind.

OPPORTUNITIES

In a SWOT analysis, the Opportunities are the elements in the environment that the business could exploit to its advantage.

Relative to the craft chocolate industry, we can identify the following opportunities:

  • There are new B2B opportunities to tap in.

The appetite for quality food didn’t reach only consumers. Many professionals outside the chocolate niche are looking to use higher quality materials for their creations. Whether for personal desire or the desire to satisfy their clients, they want to raise the standards of their finished products.

In this scenario, B2B (business to business) opportunities for craft chocolate companies are expanding. Pastry chefs desire chocolate covertures with a better flavor and a story to tell. Ice-cream makers want to make ice-cream that tastes more natural and authentic. Also cafés and coffee shops are interested in serving higher quality hot chocolates or to carry craft chocolate products to expand their offer to the public. The opportunities are truly endless.

  • More distributors want to carry craft chocolate.

With the rise in popularity of fine food, more distributors and retailers look forward to carrying craft chocolate brands on their shelves. These have a fine flavor, a story to tell, a catchy packaging and can be sold at a higher price point than usual chocolate bars.

Both the big distribution (usually health-focused stores, but not necessarily) and smaller shops are looking for deals with craft chocolate makers. There are also chocolate retailers, online distributors and pop-up stores that specialize in the selling and promotion of craft chocolate and are increasing in number.

The challenge will be to find satisfying profit margins for both parties.

  • Social Media can be used for great exposure.

While many brands in other industries are already taking full advantage of Social Media, craft chocolate makers have yet to tap into the full potential of using Social Media regularly and intentionally.

Craft chocolate companies can still take full advantage of Social Media.

If they established a more consistent presence online, their sales and the image of the entire industry would benefit from it. The process can start with incremental steps: from taking better photos, writing more meaningful posts and including calls-to-action, to following a Social Media Calendar and tracking performances on a regular basis.

THREATS

In a SWOT analysis, the Threats are the elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business.

Relative to the craft chocolate industry, we can identify the following threats:

  • Big manufacturers are using craft chocolate terms and storytelling.

Speaking of the power of marketing, big manufacturers are doing all they can to close the gap between their products and those of higher quality. They are doing it by using words like “Single Origin”, “Bean To Bar” and “Craft/Artisan”. They are also including stories from the farm and showing cacao pods in their packaging. Their products are not necessarily getting better (although sometimes they are), but the way they are talking to consumers is changing. And it sounds a lot like the craft chocolate way.

Therefore, they make industrial chocolate (produced on a large scale with mediocre cacao) look a lot like craft chocolate (produced by small artisans with the most flavorful cacao in the world). With similar vocabulary and storytelling, the difference between the two products before tasting will appear very little, and consumers won’t see the reasons to pay more for “the same” product.

This new strategy put into place by big chocolate manufacturers is jeopardizing the future of craft chocolate. The craft chocolate industry will need to find other strategies outside terminology to mark the difference with industrial chocolate.

  • Production of fine flavor cacao might decrease in the next years.

Cacao in general is a very delicate crop to handle. Its fruits need to be harvested by hand and fermented accurately to reveal the desired flavors during production. Regarding fine cacao, this crop is subjected to even more variables, and needs more work, care and attention than bulk cacao. Unfortunately, cacao farmers are not always seeing a substantial difference in revenues between selling fine cacao and selling bulk cacao. Their profits often don’t justify the bigger hassle that a fine cacao crop requires.

Fine flavor cacao only represents 5% of the global production of cacao.

If cacao farmers are not provided with better reasons to harvest fine cacao, we might see a decrease in its production and distribution all around the world. Being fine cacao the main ingredient of craft chocolate, this is a serious threat to the entire industry.

  • Many craft chocolate companies might be out of business soon.

If the number of people willing to spend more on fine chocolate doesn’t increase soon, craft chocolate makers won’t be able to sustain their businesses in the long run. The production of craft chocolate requires a steady cash flow to face weekly/monthly expenses. With the low profit margins typical of this industry, it can be daunting to continue an unprofitable activity. A natural selection in the next 3/5 years will be inevitable. The companies surviving will be the ones who are able to offer great quality, catchy packaging, smart branding and convincing storytelling all in one package, while keeping their financial statements strictly in check.

The craft chocolate industry has all the premises to expand its range of action and offer a product that thrills consumers who are looking for quality foods. But in order to survive and thrive, it has to promote itself more and better online and offline, and elaborate more strategic plans of action to catch opportunities and avoid threats.

What other Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats do you see in the craft chocolate industry?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post A SWOT Analysis Of The Craft Chocolate Industry appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

A SWOT Analysis Of The Craft Chocolate Industry was first posted on May 12, 2018 at 7:47 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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“Oh, note of raspberry! You mean there are raspberries in this chocolate?”

The struggle is real.

Average consumers still don’t know that chocolate can have more than a “chocolatey” flavor. They don’t expect to taste berries, exotic fruits, nuts or spices in their 70% plain dark bars. How to blame them! As a kid, nobody was probably ever fed the finest chocolate in the world. From Hershey’s to Kinder, the chocolate snacks for children contained little cacao and lots of sugar, milk and vanilla. Not that flavor mattered much, as these treats were devoured in a matter of seconds anyway.

This ‘mindless eating’ associated with chocolate since a tender age didn’t create the best environment for craft chocolate. A lot of explaining and tasting is now necessary to change this habit. Consumers have to learn how to enjoy the different flavors that chocolate can deliver.

This is why Tasting Notes were written on craft chocolate bars in the first place.

A cocoa bean contains around 600 aromatic components.

Tasting notes indicate the aromas contained in a chocolate bar when you taste it. These are not added ingredients, but the intrinsic flavors of the chocolate itself. They are achieved in a million ways. Some involuntarily (genetics and terroir), some voluntarily (roasting and conching techniques). Interesting aromas are what differentiates craft chocolate from industrial chocolate.

Craft chocolate aims to preserve the original aromas of cacao. Industrial chocolate dilutes the intrinsic flavors of cacao with sugar, milk, vanilla and other flavorings to keep the price tag low. The distinction is clear: craft chocolate is for savouring; industrial chocolate is for mindless eating. And for those who want to savour, the majority of craft makers includes Tasting Notes on their packaging.

This indication serves three main purposes:

  1. To make consumers understand that chocolate can taste of something other than “chocolatey”.
  2. To help consumers make a purchase based on the flavors they prefer.
  3. To guide consumers during their tasting experience.

Tasting Notes also help the storytelling of a chocolate bar. They reveal the unique personality of that specific chocolate, and differentiates it from all the other bars on the same shelf. This way, consumers can enjoy guidance in their purchasing and tasting experience, and craft makers have a tool to differentiate themselves from a growing competition.

It seems like a win-win situation for everybody, but there’s a catch.

Although Tasting Notes are a great marketing and educational tool, there is something politically incorrect about indicating them on the packaging of a craft chocolate bar.

Chocolate made from the beans on a small scale is subjected to many variables that impact its end flavor.

The biggest enemy for those who make chocolate starting from the beans is inconsistency.

Depending on the conditions at origin, the supply of cacao beans is impacted in both quality and quantity. Since most of the suppliers of fine cacao are small farmers, many factors influence flavor: weather, fermentation practices, quality protocols, time of harvest, even political instabilities. Also the chocolate maker contributes to this confusion. From buying new equipment to switching suppliers, any change inside the chocolate factory can affect the end result.

The craft chocolate movement actually takes pride in this inconsistency. While big manufacturers offer the exact same product over time, craft makers respect the cacao beans they receive and make the best out of them in the moment, surrendering to any difference from batch to batch. Unfortunately, the package that wraps such inconsistent chocolate often remains the same.

So it happens that the new batch of chocolate tastes different, but it is sold in a package with Tasting Notes from the previous batch. Or the one before that. Or who knows from how long ago.

Considering inconsistency in craft chocolate, is it a good idea to write the Tasting Notes on the packaging?

This topic has been discussed at Chocoa, the largest gathering of chocolate professionals in Europe that takes place every February in Amsterdam.

In the Chocolate Makers Forum, chocolate expert Clay Gordon from The Chocolate Life (now The Maven) was the mediator of an interactive conversation all about the challenges and the opportunities of being a craft chocolate maker. From brand identity to logistical difficulties, every aspect of bean-to-bar making was analyzed and discussed. When it was time to talk about packaging, Clay posed to the audience a very practical question:

“As a craft chocolate maker, what do you do if your new batch of chocolate tastes different from the previous one, but you still have hundreds of packages with the old Tasting Notes?”

Chocoa took place at the Beurs Van Berlage in Amsterdam, February 2018.

Many craft chocolate makers in the room candidly admitted that they would keep using the old wrappers, even when they knew for a fact that the Tasting Notes of the new batch were different. Packaging is expensive after all, and they didn’t see the value of throwing it away just because the Tasting Notes had changed.

All good for the maker, but we can’t say the same for the consumer.

It is true that Tasting Notes are subjective. Everybody tastes different things in chocolate. But there is someone more trustworthy than others: the maker who created that chocolate. Among all opinions, what’s more reliable than the opinion of the person who voluntarily tried so hard to achieve those specific flavors? This is why consumers look up so much to the Tasting Notes written on the packaging of craft chocolate.

Identifying tasting notes is the favorite game of craft chocolate lovers. Floral, fruity, herbal, nutty, spicy. These aficionados try to find the best words to describe the flavor of what they are tasting. It takes sharp focus to conduct this exercise. This is the quintessence of mindful eating!

If the Tasting Notes are written on the chocolate bar, these aspiring connoisseurs would compare them with their own results. This could be the reason of great pride or great insecurity, depending if the results matched or not. But what’s the value of using a reference that even the chocolate maker knows isn’t right? Are consumers being taken for fools?

Frustration gets even bigger when consumers make a purchase based on those Tasting Notes.

After some tastings, chocolate lovers develop their own preferences. Some love fruity notes, some enjoy their chocolate spicy, some like to keep it simple with nutty or chocolatey notes. If new chocolate is wrapped in old packaging (with different tasting notes), consumers receive the wrong guidance. They are using an inaccurate piece of information to make a purchasing decision. And it is $10 for a chocolate bar we are talking about!

This is why writing Tasting Notes on craft chocolate packaging might not be a good idea. They definitely teach new consumers that chocolate can taste of something, but will end up confusing and irritating those who spend the most money on it.

When there is no indication of Tasting Notes, consumers are free to come up with their own conclusions.  There is no pressure of comparison, but mostly there is no doubting themselves based on wrong information. It is also a wise decision for chocolate makers, who can keep using old packages even when the Tasting Notes change. They optimize costs and avoid complaints.

After all, no guidance is better than wrong guidance.

What do you think of Tasting Notes written on craft chocolate bars?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post Tasting Notes Written On Craft Chocolate Bars: Is It A Good Idea? appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

Tasting Notes Written On Craft Chocolate Bars: Is It A Good Idea? was first posted on March 4, 2018 at 8:27 am.
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Some inclusions in chocolate are meant to be immortal.

For example, salt in chocolate will probably never go out of style. You know why? Because adding salt intensifies the body’s ability to taste sweetness in sugar. When added to chocolate, salt manages to alert sensors in our intestines and on our tongue that normally don’t alert sugar. Pretty much a second sugar detector. This is why we love it so much in chocolate.

Another inclusion that will last for a very long time is nuts. Whether you prefer classic choices like almonds and hazelnuts, or want your chocolate fancy with macadamia nuts and pine nuts, the pleasure is served. Crunchiness and smoothness in one bite. Plus the health benefits that consumers always long for. Basically, nuts in chocolate is a neverending trend.

Then we can think of berries. Unlike other fruits, berries go well with any kind of chocolate really. In dark, milk or white, they are a versatile inclusion and can be added fresh, frozen-dried, in the form of an oil or as a creamy filling. Their taste is tart, almost citrusy-like, but sweeter. The resulting chocolate is a fresh mix of sweet and sour that conquer everyone’s heart.

But what are some intriguing, unexpected and definitely more curious inclusions we will be seeing this year?

If 2017 has been the triumph of healthy flavors like ginger and turmeric, chocolate makers are going back to some heavier, creamier inclusions in 2018, together with floral additions, trendy spices and superfoods.

1. TAHINI

For those who don’t know it, tahini is a sauce obtained by toasting and grounding sesame seeds. It has a yogurty consistency, and it is often used in vegan (but also non-vegan) diets as a dressing for salads or as a base to make hummus. Surprisingly, chocolatiers around the world are liking this unusual ingredient. Blended into caramels or directly added to the chocolate, it confers a creamy consistency and a toasted aroma without any added crunchiness. Naive Chocolate in Estonia makes a Milk Chocolate Bar With Tahini, while Zotter Chocolates in Austria sells a Tahini Palestine bar. The trend is also catching up in the US.

2. BROWN BUTTER

Brown butter is achieved by melting butter over medium heat until it turns into a toasty-brown color. With its rich nutty taste, it pairs really well with chocolate. Was somebody trying to find an alternative to the more traditional caramel? Maybe. Nonetheless, US chocolate makers seem to be the most passionate about this pairing. Solstice Chocolate in Utah likes to add brown butter to white chocolate, while Creo Chocolate in Oregon prefers to make it with dark chocolate. Dick Taylor in California gives it a twist by adding nibs and sea salt to the sweet mix.

3. GIANDUJA

When fine chocolate meets prestigious hazelnuts from Italy, it makes one of the most delicious treats ever invented: gianduja. The traditional recipe of gianduja accounts for very simple ingredients like cacao, sugar and toasted hazelnuts. All the ingredients are finely refined together to create a soft and delicate chocolate paste. Today, gianduja is found on the market in many forms and shapes: as a spread in a jar, as individually wrapped chocolates, and now also as chocolate bars. Not only Italians, but also chocolate makers from other nationalities are experimenting with this recipe born in Turin in 1826. Chocolate Tree in Scotland makes a dairy-free Gianduja bar using Peruvian cacao, while Hogarth Chocolate in New Zealand sells a Dark Hazelnut Chocolate (Gianduja) that has won 3 Awards in 2017.

4. COCONUT MILK

We have already seen many Coconut Milk chocolate bars popping up on the market since 2016. However, coconut milk is only meant to increase in popularity in the next years. Consumers who are ditching dairy for lactose intolerance, skin problems or ethical reasons can still find creamy enjoyment in chocolate made with coconut milk. Extracted from the coconut flesh that is grated and soaked in hot water, the result is chocolate deliciously nutty and buttery. Countless are the chocolate makers from the West to the East side of the world who are already selling chocolate bars made with coconut milk. From the internationally acclaimed Marou Coconut Milk Ben Tre 55% made in Vietnam, to the Coconut Milk Bar by Raaka Chocolate in Brooklyn, to an entire assortment of Coconut Milk Bars offered by the all-vegan Charm School Chocolate in Maryland.

5. LAVENDER

What changes between the older lavender trends and the lavender trend in 2018 is quality. In the past, many Lavender bars had very strong aromas, almost resembling beauty products like shampoo or body creams. Cheap essential oils were poured in with no mercy, resulting in chocolate way too floral and with a chemical finishing. But thanks to a greater attention to quality, lavender is loosing its bad reputation in the chocolate market. Chocolatiers are paying more attention to their suppliers and are opting for higher-quality essential oils. Remarkable are the Lavender Bar 60% by Manoa Chocolate in Hawaii and the Ooh La Lavender by Markham and Fitz in Arkansas.

6. CHAI

Chai is the word for “tea” in many parts of the world. The traditional way to make Indian Chai (the version that has become increasingly popular throughout the world) is with black tea, heavy milk, a combination of spices and a sweetener. With the boom of chai drinks on the market, also the chocolate industry couldn’t pass on such successful trend. Trying to stay as close as possible to the original recipe, craft chocolate makers are incorporating the typical chai spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and pepper) in milk or dark chocolate. The result is slightly spicy chocolate with many intriguing flavors. Villakuyaya in Ecuador is renowned for its Masala Chai Bar 65%, while Chocolate Tree in Scotland makes a marvellous Chai Spice bar.

7. SUPERFOODS

In 2018, the definition of “superfood” is still surrounded by blurred lines. There isn’t an accepted definition of the properties that a food should contain to be called “super”. It is mainly a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits, usually by their own advocates or producers. However, whether you believe in superfoods or not, there is no question they are becoming a tremendously popular inclusion among chocolate makers. The superfoods that have been lately incorporated in chocolate are spices, berries, seeds, rare fruits and some not-so-well-known powders. Among the most popular: matcha, spirulina, lucuma, maca powder, goji berries, turmeric, chia seeds, mulberries, reishi mushrooms. Chocolate brands in the US like The Chocolate Conspiracy, Yes Cacao and Live A Lot Chocolate are at the forefront of this new trend.

In 2018, chocolate makers are definitely putting more attention to the quality of their inclusions. Not only the chocolate itself has to be flavorful and with a nice texture, but also any addition needs to be carefully chosen. Consumers are now demanding high-quality in every single ingredient.

What other flavors do YOU think will be trendy for chocolate in 2018?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post Top 7 Chocolate Flavor Trends For 2018 appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

Top 7 Chocolate Flavor Trends For 2018 was first posted on January 5, 2018 at 5:37 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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When it comes to cheap chocolate, the flavor of the cacao used doesn’t really matter.

Its tasting notes are mitigated by powerful ingredients like sugar, butter and milk. Sadly, cacao becomes just another unremarkable addition in the ingredients list. This makes sense though. The ultimate goal of low-quality chocolate is not savoring, but mindless eating. So whether it is fine or bulk, flavorful or flavorless, cacao is mercilessly overlooked in cheap chocolate.

But with craft chocolate, it’s another story.

The flavor of the cacao used is really important in craft chocolate, not so much in cheap chocolate.

Here cacao is King.

Its flavor is the main reason why consumers decide to pay a higher price-tag for their chocolate (unless they are deceived by clever marketing). Often accompanied only by sugar, cacao can’t hide behind other flavors. Its tasting notes are in the forefront, constantly scrutinized by attentive chocoholics.

Since this is chocolate crafted from the bean, every step of the process has the power to influence its end-flavor. The main players are genetics, terroir and fermentation at origin, and roasting and conching in the kitchen. But there are also other less remarkable steps that still have an impact, like transportation and storing.

The product delivered to consumers can therefore be inconsistent for many reasons. We can divide them in two categories:

  • nature. The cacao tree is known to be very promiscuous. In the same farm, there can be many different varieties of cacao. But also the same tree can give birth to cacao pods with different genetics. Not only this, but even inside the same cacao pod there are cacao beans of different colors. Moreover, weather changes at origin are frequent and uncontrollable. It is clear how cacao farmers have limited control over what they are harvesting due to the behaviour of the cacao tree and the frequent changes in the weather (together with other thousand factors).
  • human nature. So many variables affect the products that come out of a chocolate laboratory. Times, temperatures, machines, techniques. Also the skills of the chocolate maker might vary. He/she can do a very good job with certain cacao beans, but find more challenges with others. Even daily mood or energy level can influence the flavor of the chocolate. After all, an artisanal product is affected also by the physical and mental conditions of its creator. While bigger companies manage to keep consistency thanks to innovative hi-tech tools, smaller manufacturers can’t afford such luxuries.

This uncertainty in the end-result is considered by many “the beauty of craft chocolate”. But the marketplace might say otherwise.

The demand-supply game requires some level of consistency. Consumers expect to spend their money on chocolate that tastes like the last time they bought it and enjoyed it. Among many choices, they trust those brands that can deliver products that match their previous positive experiences. If they feel betrayed, it will be hard for a brand to get those customers back.

So, is inconsistency the beauty or the damnation of craft chocolate?

Let’s analyze what’s good and what’s bad about consistency and inconsistency in chocolate flavor development.

Should the flavor of craft chocolate be consistent or inconsistent?

CONSISTENCY

Consistency in craft chocolate means that (ideally) a specific chocolate bar will have the same flavor profile over time. In this scenario, consumers can rely on a specific set of tasting notes that belongs to that bar. This is in fact the first advantage of consistency: returning customers.

Even consumers who understand the fluctuating nature of craft chocolate need some predictability during their shopping. They expect the same flavor from the same chocolate. It doesn’t matter how well educated they are on the subject. They are not afraid of manifesting their disappointment whenever a chocolate maker changes supplier, recipe or doesn’t keep up with standards and expectations. And if consumers are not happy, retailers and distributors are not happy either.

Consistency is a touchy subject for craft chocolate retailers and distributors.

It’s not easy to have craft chocolate makers as suppliers. Some of them take bean-to-bar making as a hobby and can’t guarantee a stable supply. Some others only produce in small quantities. There is also the frequent problem of interrupted supply of cacao beans at origin. If the chocolate maker changes supplier for a specific Single Origin bar, this might taste completely different from the previous one, even though it might hold the same country of origin on the packaging. In this chaos, those who sell directly to end-consumers need to guarantee quality standards for the products they sell. To them, consistency is a priority.

Last but not least, coverture made of craft bean-to-bar chocolate seems to be a new potential niche. Professional pastry chefs are developing great curiosity for this kind of chocolate, to the point that some of them become chocolate makers. This opens the doors to craft chocolate being sold in bulk for business-to-business purposes. But also pastry chefs need to serve desserts that are consistently good to their customers. The chocolate needs to guarantee a consistent harmony with all the other ingredients used in the recipe.

But why should inconsistency be forgiven to other fine foods (like wine and olive oil) and not to chocolate?

Craft chocolate has many similarities with fine wine.

A wine expert knows that the best wines in the world are not made in large quantities.

They often come from small-scale companies that still use artisanal techniques. The vineyard is guarded by the attentive eyes of the owner, who personally handles the wine-making process and adds very little preservatives to the final product. It sounds a lot like craft chocolate. And like craft chocolate, even fine wine is highly affected by weather changes, genetics and diseases (compared to a larger production that can handle these variables more efficiently). Quality standards and flavor profiles widely vary depending on the season. This is why any suggestion about a specific bottle of wine is often accompanied by the year of harvest (of the grapes).

The same mentality should be used for craft chocolate.

If a chocolate bar had the same flavor profile over time, the beauty of craft chocolate would be lost. When consumers taste craft chocolate, they take joy in knowing that they might never try anything like that again. That the unpredictability at origin might interrupt the supply of that fine cacao forever. Or that the chocolate maker might decide to stop the production of that specific bar.

What makes craft chocolate special is the appreciation in the moment. It’s those specific tasting notes that might not be achieved in the next batch.

INCONSISTENCY

Inconsistency is definitely charming. Consumers never know what to expect from a craft chocolate bar. And let’s admit it, that’s kind of exciting.

On one side, consumers get attached to their favorite products, and can get upset with so much volatility in the craft chocolate world. But on the other side, this same volatility is what keeps them interested and curious.

Because the assortment of a chocolate maker changes so often, consumers are always looking out for the next product release. They are anticipating new origins, new flavors, new stories. They also know that a specific bar might not taste the same the following year, and they like to keep track of the changes. The assortment of a craft chocolate company can be compared to the seasonal menu of a restaurant. Chefs are excited to work with fresh ingredients, experiment with new products available, not knowing if they are ever going to get those same flavors again. And the clients of the restaurant anticipate the chef’s new creations.

At the same time, inconsistency might not matter as long as the flavors are consistently good.

Is inconsistency in craft chocolate truly a problem after all?

A chocolate maker that puts on the market consistently good chocolate might be forgiven for his/her inconsistency. Flavors may change, origins may change, recipes may change. But if the artisan manages to deliver quality and flavor in every product, consumers might stay loyal even to a variable assortment.

However, there is one occasion where inconsistency becomes truly problematic: the Chocolate Awards.

There is a high risk that the chocolate tasted during these competitions is not going to be the same purchased by consumers. Any chocolate expert knows that the flavor of bean-to-bar chocolate made on a small scale can vary from batch to batch. Even with the same origin and the same making process, two chocolate bars can come out different from one another depending on when they were produced. It might be because of the supplier at origin, because of the current season or because of the skills of the maker. This is the same reason why the indication of the Batch Number in craft chocolate is becoming as important as the Year Of Harvest in fine wine.

As mentioned earlier, craft chocolate is to be appreciated in the moment, because it might be a unique, unrepeatable experience. But when the sticker of an award is appointed on the same chocolate bar throughout months and years, it creates the false illusion that the product is consistently good and worthy of attention. On the contrary, the volatile nature of craft chocolate encourages us to challenge the quality of a chocolate bar at every tasting.

Inconsistency can also compromise the relationship with distributors and retailers.

Consistency is very important to those who have to sell directly to consumers. If a chocolate maker can’t deliver a consistent or consistently good assortment, third parties might decide to interrupt the collaboration.

At this point, should craft chocolate makers try to achieve more consistency or should inconsistency be embraced and celebrated?

The best approach might lie in the middle way.

On one side, there are solutions to achieve more consistency in the craft bean-to-bar world. One of these is for chocolate makers to take detailed notes during every step of the process to find the reasons behind flavor changes from batch to batch. Working hard at origin to establish strict protocols and efficient practices is also a crucial step to take.

On the other side, there are solutions that help inconsistency be appreciated. Educating consumers on the bean-to-bar process is definitely one of them. This way, consumers are made more aware of the fluctuating nature of the flavors in craft chocolate. They can learn to appreciate the beauty of inconsistency and embrace the always-changing assortment of a craft chocolate maker.

What do YOU think about Consistency and Inconsistency in craft chocolate?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post Consistency VS Inconsistency In Chocolate Flavor Development appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

Consistency VS Inconsistency In Chocolate Flavor Development was first posted on December 21, 2017 at 7:29 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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October is a special month for London.

After the long summer break, the capital of England becomes the center of attention for every chocoholic in the world. For an entire week, the sweet Food of the Gods is glorified from all perspectives. Workshops, tastings, events, lessons, shows. Chocolate is everywhere, from special discounts at the supermarket to pop-up shops offering a fine selection. There is no escaping the sweet rush! Even those who “I don’t care much for chocolate” are captivated by the joy of such celebration and dragged by their chocoholic friends to the best gatherings in town.

During this time, one of the events nobody wants to miss is The Chocolate Show, UK’s largest event dedicated to chocolate.

The Chocolate Show in London is one of the most anticipated events by chocoholics around the world.

On October 13-15, the Olympia Exhibition Center in Kensington, London hosted The Chocolate Show 2017. With 50+ chocolate companies on the exhibitors list, the event managed to offer a vast selection of the finest chocolatiers and pastry makers from the UK and around the world. Also celebrity chef demonstrations, chocolate workshops, sculptures, pop-up chocolate restaurants and professional tastings delighted the hungry attendees.

For regular consumers, this was a special occasion to indulge in delicious chocolate. From a professional point of view, The Chocolate Show was a great chance to discover the latest trends in the industry. What were chocolate companies offering? What were consumers asking for?

Let’s have a look at the latest trends from London:

White Chocolate With Inclusions Becomes Incredibly Popular

This trend has been going on for one year now. Chocolate makers and chocolatiers take plain white chocolate and give it texture and flavor with all kinds of inclusions: raspberries, pistachios, cocoa nibs, matcha. Thanks to the use of high-quality ingredients, white chocolate is slowly but steadily transitioning from a cheap candy to a fine food to be savored just like dark chocolate.

Danish maker Friis-Holm has just launched 3 new bars, including white chocolate with inclusion of cacao nibs. All vegan white chocolate with inclusion of raspberries by British chocolate maker SOLKIKI. Raspberry Lemonade white chocolate bars are the first ones to sell out at Zara’s Chocolates booth.

Lacking the typical flavor of cocoa, white chocolate is often accused of not being chocolate at all. But this doesn’t seem to concern consumers. White chocolate with inclusions was the first kind of chocolate to be sold out at The Chocolate Show in every booth. Even if plain white chocolate can be bland, boring and uninspiring, it can be turned into an intriguing delicacy with the addition of crunchiness (nuts, cocoa nibs) and flavors (spices, teas). Especially when it’s made by small companies with artisanal methods, consumers trust the short ingredients list and the freshness of ingredients.

Consumers Are Educated And Prepared On Chocolate

All the efforts made in the past years to educate consumers on fine chocolate are finally giving results. Exhibitors at The Chocolate Show revealed that they had less explaining to do than they expected. Already familiar with terms like “bean-to-bar” and “single origin”, regular consumers came prepared on the basics and ready to ask more challenging questions.

The level of education among consumers regarding chocolate is definitely increasing.

Conversations on cacao percentages and ingredients lists are officially over. Consumers are finally graduating from that elementary level of knowledge. Now they can name the major countries where cacao is grown, are familiar with the bean-to-bar process and can tell the difference between craft and industrial chocolate. This is the result of a jointed effort. On one side, consumers are more careful about the food they eat and love to conduct their own research. On the other side, the fine chocolate community worldwide has already spent a decade giving consumers all the knowledge to make conscious choices. Conversations with potential customers now focus on more advanced topics, from flavor to fermentation to the well-being of cacao farmers.

100% Cacao Bars Occupy A Prominent Position

The no-sugar trend has no intention to stop. Actually, it is only increasing in popularity. This could be easily told by the prominent position that 100% cacao bars were occupying at The Chocolate Show. If in the past years this kind of bar was kept in a corner, now it is proudly shown in the front row.

Legendary chocolate maker Duffy’s showcases his 100% chocolate bars right at the front of his booth. Manchester-based Dormouse Chocolates makes a 100% cacao bar with Single Origin fine cacao from Guatemala. An attendee of the show buys 3 No-Sugar Madagascar bars from Scottish maker Chocolate Tree.

Because of this popular demand for sugar-free chocolate, every chocolate maker has a 100% cacao bar included in the assortment. But the standards have raised also for this kind of chocolate! Consumers expect it to be flavorful, with some interesting tasting notes that can distract from the lack of sugar. This is not chocolate “for punishment” anymore, but to be savored and enjoyed like any other dark chocolate.

Strong Need For A Community Of European Chocolate Makers

Chocolate makers in Europe look up to chocolate makers in the United States. Observing from afar, they often envy how on the other side of the world knowledge around craft chocolate spreads fast and wide. This happens thanks to an open community of American chocolate makers ready to help each other and share information. In Europe, this sense of community is still in development.

European chocolate makers don’t feel like they belong to a community.

European chocolate makers wish they had more opportunities to come together as a community. Some events like Origin Chocolate in Amsterdam are already in place to achieve this goal, but don’t seem to be enough. In the US, professionals can meet at the Chocolate Makers Unconference in Seattle and at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association events in New York and San Francisco, just to name a few. The attitude of the craft chocolate community in the US is also very different. So called “competitors” visit each other’s chocolate factories, exchange opinions and often call up one another for help. They understand that choosing collaboration over competition means contributing to the well-being of the entire industry. In Europe, chocolate makers tend to be reluctant to the idea of opening the doors of their factories or sharing precious info with other companies, jeopardizing the creation of a real community.

Consumers Ask For Award-Winning Products

At the end of its first day, The Chocolate Show hosted the International Chocolate Awards ceremony that announced the winners of the World Final competition. The following day, every winner exhibiting at the show proudly put on display their awards. Most of those same products sold out within the day.

Russell and Albert from 5D Dimension Chocolates proudly show their GOLD award for the Banana Cardamom chocolate. Peruvian maker Shattell wins Best In Competition GOLD for its Chuncho 70% chocolate bar.

The International Chocolate Awards have raised some criticism lately. Many believe that the awards handed are way too many, and that the tasting method isn’t quite professional (for example, the panel tastes a lot of chocolate in one single day, running the risk to misjudge the last samples). However, it’s undeniable that the system of the Awards works wonders to sell fine chocolate. Consumers looking for signs of quality are reassured by the stickers of the Awards appointed on chocolate products. These are like stamps of approval from professionals in the industry, giving the message that those same products are worth their price tag. At the same time, chocolate makers can sell more chocolate when they win awards. Seems like a win-win situation, right?

More Countries Of Origin Are Making Their Own Chocolate

Recognizing the finesse of the cacao grown in their own country, chocolate makers are inspired to make chocolate that celebrates their heritage. The most popular producers of fine cacao, like Peru and Ecuador, are already accustomed to this trend. But this new phenomenon is also taking place in unexpected countries, like Taiwan and the Caribbean.

Taiwanese bean-to-bar company Fu Wan has grabbed the attention of all the attendees with its fruity cacao and delicate inclusions. St Vincent Cocoa Company in the Caribbean is now making chocolate with the cacao beans from its own farm.

Tired of giving away their precious cacao, farmers have started to see the potential of making their own chocolate for better profits. The path they follow is usually the same: they first produce small quantities of chocolate bars to sell to the local market, then they see how the chocolate performs, and in the case of positive feedback they think about exporting abroad. In other cases, regular chocolate makers who are passionate about the fine cacao grown in their own country turn it into fine flavored chocolate hoping for worldwide appreciation. Either it be tree-to-bar or bean-to-bar, the distance between the cacao tree and the finished product seems to be getting shorter in many places around the world.

The Chocolate Show in London has demonstrated that chocolate consumers are getting more educated, expecting high-flavor profiles from both dark and white chocolate, valuing the recognition from official institutions like the International Chocolate Awards. They are also ready to ask deeper questions and to hear the stories behind the chocolate.

What are YOUR favorite trends from The Chocolate Show in London?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post The Chocolate Show In London Confirms New Trends For The Industry appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

The Chocolate Show In London Confirms New Trends For The Industry was first posted on October 22, 2017 at 9:52 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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You must have heard it by now.

On September 5th at a private event in Shanghai, giant chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut presented what got gloriously appointed as “the 4th type of chocolate“.

Chocolate experts from all over the world flew to China to assist to the revolution. It actually sounded like a big deal: after 80 years from the invention of white chocolate, the R&D department of the company managed to develop another kind of chocolate.

Next to dark, milk and white, there is now a pink chocolate called Ruby.

The news traveled the Internet fast. Dozens of article started popping out with the images of a eye-catching pink chocolate never seen before. Some of them were probably sponsored and paid for, some others just followed the trend. Nonetheless, in less than 24 hours every chocoholic online knew about Ruby chocolate.

As time went on, the media seemed more confused than ever. Since Barry Callebaut didn’t reveal any info on the actual process behind the pink chocolate, all there was to rely on were mostly enthusiastic marketing claims, and a lot of guessing. From a “new type of cocoa bean” to an “extracted pink powder”, nobody could really wrap his mind around how this Ruby chocolate was actually made.

But when passionate chocoholics online started digging deeper into the situation, the curtain of mystery fell to reveal some unpleasant truths.

The Ruby chocolate launched by Barry Callebaut.

Let’s start with color, texture and flavor.

Ruby chocolate was given this name because of its distinctive pink color. The Switzerland-based company cares to clarify that no flavorings or colors were added to the chocolate to make it look this way. This is an all-natural hue.

Regarding the texture, Ruby chocolate is smooth and creamy. Something in between milk and white, even though no ratio between cacao solids and cacao butter was disclosed by the company.

As for its flavor, Callebaut itself describes it as “not bitter, milky or sweet, but a tension between berry fruitiness and luscious smoothness”. In other words, Ruby should have the taste of chocolate with freshness and fruitiness to it. However, those who have personally tried it at the event in Shanghai, like Clay Gordon from The Chocolate Life, says that “it has little to none of the characteristic cocoa flavor associated with chocolate”.

More than the fourth flavor of chocolate, Ruby sounds like a pink cocoa butter with hint of fruitiness. But where do these peculiar color, texture and flavor come from?

They come from the Ruby cocoa beans, apparently.

These were at first erroneously described by the media as a new type of cocoa bean, almost like a new variety that nobody had ever encountered before, and Callebaut discovered. But now we know that “Ruby cocoa bean” does not refer to a new kind of cacao. It simply refers to cocoa beans who are USED to create Ruby chocolate.

These are cocoa beans that supposedly present the physical characteristics suitable to make Ruby chocolate (like I would call “Sharon oranges” the oranges I use to make my homemade jam, but they are really just simple oranges or a specific kind of oranges I use because they are perfect to make my jam, but I didn’t “discover” or “invent” them, and I am definitely not the only one using them). We can just assume that some cocoa beans are adequate to make Ruby chocolate, and others are not. Or even further, Ruby cocoa beans are just the processed cocoa beans dedicated to the manufacturing of Ruby chocolate. The company hasn’t been clear on the reasons why also the cocoa beans are called Ruby.

What we know is that these beans are sourced in Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil. Sourcing from both West Africa and Latin America, Ruby cacao beans are not single origin and probably not associated in any way to terroir. The company also says that they come from the “same species of cacao plant used to make the chocolate we already know” , and swears that nothing was genetically modified. Therefore, not even genetics explains the peculiarity of these beans.

If Ruby cacao beans are just regular beans, how does the chocolate turn pink instead of its usual brown color? If it’s not in the genetics and in the terroir, the peculiarity must be in the post-harvesting processes.

Here is where passionate chocoholics online started their own research.

Ruby chocolate is presented by Barry Callebaut in Shanghai, China.

Hiding behind the Trade Secret, Barry Callebaut hasn’t revealed any detail on specific processes or ingredients used, leaving space for unlikely speculations regarding secret powders and intriguing compounds. Since the use of added ingredients has been denied, the most plausible explanation must lie in the way the cacao beans are treated after harvesting.

The experienced John Nanci from Chocolate Alchemy believes that “the color comes from processing” and “the processing might preserve a color that otherwise would darken”. At this point, it didn’t take long for curious chocolate makers and consumers to figure out the solution to the dilemma. This new pink chocolate must have something to do with the process to make red cacao patented by the same Barry Callebaut in 2009 (with some new modifications to reach the color pink).

A quick research on Google will lead to the specific patent (HERE). There we find the (most likely) solution served on a golden plate: unfermented cacao beans, acidified.

The explanation of unfermented cacao beans makes sense, on many levels.

First, unfermented cacao beans (raw) have the same pinkish color that we can associate to Ruby chocolate. Once fermented, cacao beans lose this cute color for a more brownish/chocolatey one. Therefore, skipping the fermentation process avoids the pink color to darken.

Secondly, a missed fermentation explains the lack of any chocolatey flavor in Ruby chocolate. Fermentation is the essential step for cacao beans to develop the precursors of the typical flavor of chocolate. By skipping that process, the cocoa beans don’t have time to develop the characteristic cocoa flavor. This would explain why Ruby chocolate doesn’t really taste like chocolate.

For the chemicals/non-chemicals used to acidify the unfermented cacao beans, it’s better to leave a deeper analysis to competent experts. However, we can assume that the unfermented cacao beans are treated to preserve their pink color after harvesting and during the bean-to-bar process. More info inside the patent on Google.

At this point, the Ruby cocoa beans are simply beans that are suited to look pink and taste fruity after the processes intended by Callebaut.

No wonder that this discovery further outraged chocolate professionals online, especially the ones dedicated to craft bean-to-bar practices and devoted to fine flavor. Here are the accusations.

Why do fine chocolate professionals hate Ruby chocolate?

Chocolate professionals in the fine chocolate industry accuse Ruby chocolate of these 3 main things:

    • being a marketing gimmick.

Barry Calleabaut has openly talked about the fact that Ruby chocolate is meant to target Millennials. In the Instagram age where online users go crazy about colorful food, the company is optimistic that Ruby chocolate will create a big buzz among foodies who like to share pictures of their meals. The color of Ruby chocolate perfectly meets the need of Millennials for fancy food to share online. This might be a clever marketing strategy, but definitely leaves the door open for critiques. The company can be accused of caring more about the visual side of the chocolate than its actual flavor, making it perfect for pictures and not so much for palates.

    • being a cost-cutting strategy.

It’s known that unfermented cocoa beans are way cheaper than fermented cocoa beans. The fermenting process takes up anywhere from 5 to 7 days to complete. This means more labour, more infrastructures and more time than just collecting wet cacao on the field and deliver it (or directly drying it). By using unfermented cacao, Barry Callebaut dramatically reduces the cost of its raw material. Moreover, since the flavor of Ruby chocolate is so subtle (and at this point not particularly relevant), the company can afford to be careless about the quality of the cacao beans used, reflecting in lower prices paid at origin.

    • doing nothing to promote fine chocolate.

Without putting any emphasis on flavor or quality, Ruby chocolate is considered a questionable product born to catch the eye, create buzz and nothing more. It doesn’t contribute to the elevation of chocolate as a fine food, nor stimulates consumers to look over its aesthetics. Rumors have it that the cacao used is the controversial CCN-51, known to be the worst enemy of fine flavor chocolate. Also, the fact that the company doesn’t reveal any detail about how Ruby chocolate is processed leaves many speculations about possible GMO and questionable practices.

Barry Callebaut doesn’t sell to end consumers, but only to other businesses. Ruby chocolate will therefore be available only in the shape of coverture for chocolatiers, pastry chefs and other professionals. Because it’s a brand new product, the company says it will be 6 to 18 months before it becomes available on the market. The Ruby cacao beans will not be available for purchasing. The date of release of Ruby chocolate will depend on the country and the vendor, and China will be the most targeted market.

(A special THANK YOU to all the people online who directly or indirectly contributed to this article, with links to the Callebaut patent, articles on Ruby chocolate and other useful information!)

What do YOU think of Ruby chocolate?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service. 

The post All About That Ruby Chocolate Just Invented By Callebaut appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

All About That Ruby Chocolate Just Invented By Callebaut was first posted on September 9, 2017 at 6:15 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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Those who love chocolate consider it a perfect food.

Rich in nutrients and poor in side effects, chocolate has been recently liberated from years of bad reputation. It doesn’t cause acne anymore, or contribute to weight gain. Actually, we hear so often about its health benefits that we feel encouraged to eat more of it, without any sense of guilt.

The only negative sides of chocolate mentioned by the media regards socio-economic matters, like child labour and the poverty level of cacao farmers. But there is another discussion going on under the radar that is concerning a growing number of chocolate lovers. A metal intruder is threatening the restored popularity of chocolate.

The buzz killer is called Cadmium.

Why is cadmium found in chocolate?

Cadmium is a heavy metal considered toxic for the human body. When ingested or inhaled, it is not well absorbed by the body, so it accumulates over time and can have detrimental effects on kidneys, lungs and bones. This is why it is classified as a human carcinogen and can potentially increase the risks of cancer.

Although much concern surrounds its consumption, chocolate is not among the foods with the highest contamination of cadmium. As the European Commission highlights:

“The food groups that contribute most of the dietary cadmium exposure are cereals and cereal products, vegetables, nuts and pulses, starchy roots or potatoes, and meat and meat products. Also tobacco smoking can contribute to a similar internal exposure as that from the diet.”

But since the global chocolate market is worth $100 billion, it is worth looking at how cadmium ends up in chocolate and what can be done to limit its presence.

The first big misconception to debunk about cadmium in chocolate is its origin.

Unfortunately, cadmium can’t be “taken out” of chocolate or completely avoided. It is not even the result of industrial processes or questionable manufacturing decisions. No fingers can be pointed at someone in the cacao supply chain for the presence of cadmium in chocolate. Because before any farming practice or chocolate making process, cadmium is already there. Not in the beans, not inside the tree, but in the soil.

Cadmium is found in the soil where cacao trees grow.

Cadmium is naturally found in soil as a result of volcanic activity, forest fires and weathering of rocks. It is then taken up by many plants, like the cacao tree. The amount of heavy metal that ends up in the cacao beans depends on multiple factors. Among all the variables, geographic location and soil acidity are the ones playing the most relevant roles in the exposure of the soil to cadmium. Other factors like cacao variety seem to have less relevancy in this matter.

Despite being considered the world’s prime supplier of fine cacao, cocoa beans from Latin America are particularly affected by cadmium contamination. Due to higher volcanic activities, traces of cadmium are more prominent in cacao from Latin America than from West Africa.

In October 2016, the team at ETH Zurich released the results of an extensive research conducted in Honduras and Bolivia to determine the causes of cadmium contamination at origin. The researchers found significant amounts of cadmium in the soils and beans of some remote hilly regions well away from polluting industry and intensive farming. Most plantations were only managed as agroforestry estates with minimum use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides, both of which can be sources of cadmium pollution.

“We have no concrete proof that the problem is man-made. The cadmium seems to stem almost exclusively from the parent bedrock.” – confirms Dr Gramlich.

It is also still unclear whether the cacao variety has anything to do with the cadmium level in the chocolate. Do specific cacao varieties take up cadmium in their beans more easily than others? Some researchers believe that the more productive clones might be higher accumulators of cadmium, but that’s really not sure yet.

The only certainty seems to be the correlation between cadmium and soil acidity. A higher acidity level in the soil usually corresponds to a higher level of cadmium accumulation. This is why one of the solutions proposed to resolve the problem is to add lime or zinc to the soil. These additions elevate pH and lower acidity.

Another precaution, suggested by the ETC Zurich team, is to check the cadmium content of the soil before planting any cocoa tree. If the levels are too high, another cash crop such as coffee could be grown instead.

Unfortunately, organic farming is not listed among the solutions, as it doesn’t seem to help with the cadmium issue.

If some actions can be taken by cacao farmers, there is really nothing a chocolate maker can do to lower the cadmium in the cocoa beans he/she receives.

Craft chocolate makers are powerless when it comes to cadmium in their chocolate.
PHOTO CREDIT: The Food Pornographer.

The high temperatures reached during roasting won’t get rid of the cadmium in the chocolate. The only precaution a chocolate maker can take is to enhance the traceability of its sources and make sure that its cacao suppliers are taking action to deal with the problem at origin.

Better luck seems to find industrial chocolate manufacturers. They are able to keep down the cadmium content in their products thanks to purchasing in high volume and from different regions. Nonetheless, they are facing legal problems for the heavy metal content in their chocolate. Mars, Hershey and other chocolate manufacturers have received legal notices in 2015 from the non-profit organization As You Sow that accused them of exceeding safety standards for the state of California. The accusations seem to lack the fundamental understanding that cadmium is a naturally-occurring problem.

The latest news in the legal department is the introduction by the European Union of new limits on the amount of cadmium in cocoa products. They will be enforced starting 1 January 2019.

It’s clear that little can be done to prevent cadmium in chocolate or completely eradicate the problem in the short term. For consumers, it is not fun to know that one of their favorite foods might contain heavy metals. However, cadmium in chocolate should not represent a great concern.

As mentioned above, there are other foods consumed daily and in larger quantities that are more affected by cadmium contamination than chocolate. Chocolate consumption that is limited to moderate quantities does not represent a danger for the human body. The side effects of cadmium can also be contrasted by maintaining sufficient levels of iron, calcium and zinc.

Are YOU concerned about cadmium in chocolate?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post Cadmium In Chocolate: Everything You Need To Know appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

Cadmium In Chocolate: Everything You Need To Know was first posted on August 11, 2017 at 6:56 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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It happens all the time.

A renowned chocolate maker starts using cacao beans from a new producer. The chocolate tastes amazing and the word spreads fast. One month later, everybody is using those same beans. Dozens of bars from the same origin start appearing on the market and consumers are delighted by such exciting releases.

But the soul of a craft chocolate maker never settles.

Craft chocolate makers are constantly on the lookout for new exciting cacao origins.

The fact that a lot of companies use the same cacao beans has never been a big deal in the craft chocolate industry. So much goes into the making of good chocolate that the raw material is only the first step. The skills of the maker, the kind of machines, the right timing, the quality of other ingredients. The joy of craft chocolate consumers is actually to taste how different makers interpret the same cacao beans.

However, finding differentiation in such a competitive market is key to success.

This is why chocolate makers venture into trips in the jungle and take financial risks for expensive shipments. They need to find what will set them apart from their competitors. New origins, new experiments, new products.

In 2016, fine cacao from Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize was in every maker’s dreams. In 2017, Kokoa Kamili in Tanzania ran the show. Who will be the most popular producer of fine cacao in 2018?

Here are some new producers that chocolate makers have put their eyes on.

Ucayali River Cacao (PERU)

PHOTO CREDIT: LetterPress Chocolate.

Makers like Lettepress Chocolate and Manoa Chocolate created Single Origin bars with this cacao back in 2015. But it has only been recently that Ucayali River Cacao got the recognition it deserved. Thanks to several chocolate awards achieved in 2017, this Peruvian cacao is now rocking the scene.

Robin, founder of the company, and his partner Marcos are working closely with 400 cacao farmers in Ucayali, inland region of Peru in the Amazon rainforest. They pick up the wet cacao at collecting stations every 15 days and bring it to their processing facility. Here, they take care of fermentation and drying, and get the cacao beans ready for shipment.

They also work closely with USAID and Alianza Cacao of Peru, organizations that are encouraging farmers in the area to abandon coca production for cacao.

Here the main strength of their business: “While most of the farmers in our area have lots of CCN-51, we work only with ICS, TCH, IMC, CMP and local varieties that are known as “comun”.  This mixture of varieties combined with frequent collaboration with Daniel O’Doherty of Cacao Services enables us to produce a unique cacao for our customers.”

Buena Nota Imports (COSTA RICA)

Eric (right) checking on cocoa beans drying for Buena Nota Imports.

New York based Dark Forest Chocolate just won two International Chocolate Awards using the fine cacao of Buena Nota Imports. Under the charisma of his founder Eric, this company is just getting started, but has all the premises to get noticed in the craft chocolate industry. In fact, its Trinitario beans are already in the hands of San Francisco based Dandelion Chocolate, company renowned for being a trend setter in terms of fine cacao origins.

This cocoa is grown at Hacienda Azul in Turrialba, small city in Cartago Province of Costa Rica laying next to an active volcano. It all comes from a small, family-owned farm. The owners work in harmony with local flora and fauna, integrating native trees into the growing process to promote reforestation and create optimal levels of shade. At harvest time the beans are fermented in wooden boxes and then sun-dried to lock in their flavor.

The company is looking to expand its product line soon.

Agro Floresta Mesoamericana (MEXICO)

Agrofloresta analyzes the diversity of Mexican cacao.

A group of passionate agronomists is looking to restore the old prestige of Mexican cacao.  Their mission is to position agroforestry systems as the most attractive option for farmers in mesoamerica.

Thanks to its scientific approach, Agrofloresta currently manages four separate agroforestry projects on the borders of conservation areas and sources cacao from different communities of southern Tabasco and northern Chiapas. While cacao in this area has been traditionally washed and dried to be used in local products, Hugo and his team are working to improve fermentation techniques that bring value to cacao farmers. The cacao they work with is trinitario, but they like to call it “mexicano”.

Agrofloresta has recently acquired a new important customer: Original Beans. It won’t take long before other bean-to-bar makers get interested in this new producer.

CacaoTales (PERU)

Luis (left) from Cacao Tales sources directly from Peruvian farmers.

With exotic notes of passion fruit, the cacao from Chililique sourced by Cacao Tales in Peru is enchanting many chocolate makers and chocolatiers worldwide. From The Chocolate Tree in Scotland, to Chapon in France and Es Koyama in Japan, Cacao Tales is making a name for itself in the industry.

Its founder Luis works in close collaboration with Norandino, agrarian cooperative that unites 30 associations of small coffee, cacao and sugarcane producers. Together, they produce and sell ultra-premium cacao (white native) from the Piura region. Luis, cacao farmer himself, dedicates its life to the Cacao Tales mission, living closely to the farmers and travelling the world to find clients for their cacao.

In his own words:

“Our mission is to give back to the farmers that live in the small communities where our cacao grows, helping them to rediscover their dignity and pride, by directly providing our precious beans to the world’s best chocolatiers.

We envision a future in which chocolate makers and chocolate lovers adequately acknowledge and reward the hard work of smallholder cacao farmers that produce sustainable, ethically and directly traded cacao.”

It will be interesting to see what producer (and from what country) will drive the interest of craft chocolate makers in 2018.

Have YOU heard of other new exciting fine cacao producers?

I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.

The post Craft Chocolate Makers Are Loving These New Cacao Origins appeared first on The Chocolate Journalist.

Craft Chocolate Makers Are Loving These New Cacao Origins was first posted on July 12, 2017 at 6:53 am.
©2012 "Welcome to My Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at partners@DanAndJenniferMedia.com
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