Here's how we make bean to bar chocolate. We source some of the best cocoa beans from around the world, which have already gone through a number of stages before they arrive at the Born chocolate factory. The beans are harvested, fermented and then dried.
Harvesting the beans involves removing ripe pods from the trees and opening them up and removing the wet beans inside. The pods are harvested manually, as there are only around 30-40 beans in each pod.
The fermentation can vary from farm to farm, but this is the stage one of the crucial stages that helps determine the flavour of the bean.
Drying is done sometimes by the natural sunlight, as the country of each bean origin tends to benefit from heat. But how they’re dried also varies. Now its time to ship to the chocolate makers.
Once they arrive at Born chocolate, we hand sort each batch. Removing any of the defected beans or random bits. It's amazing what can turn up in the sack of beans, after all they're coming from rural farms from all over the world. One of the main culprits are bits of string.
Then onto roasting the beans, we do this in a conventional range oven, laying the beans in a single layer to ensure each bean is consistently roasted. The time and temperature can vary dependent on the bean origin we use to best develop the flavour.
Next up, we crack the beans, this helps with the next stage of winnowing. Cracking is done through a heavy juicing machine.
Winnow-what? we hear you say. This is probably the most interesting stage, but for many chocolate makers the one we’d press a pass button on if we could! The winnower separates the cocoa nib/bean from its outer shell. The shell is light and can be sucked away, whilst the nib is heavier, so it drops through a separate tunnel, separating them both.
The husk (shell can sometimes be used for making chocolate tea or used for other products if soaked). We collaborate with a local sauce maker who uses the husks in his cocoa sauce, so nothing goes to waste!)
Grinding & conching
Now we have the nibs, we can add these to the melanger along with the rest of our ingredients to start the grinding process. In our base recipe we just add cocoa bean, sugar and cocoa butter to the grinder. Grind / conch time varies depending on the batch size and ingredients, but on average we grind & conch our batches between 30-48 hours!
Like a fine wine, chocolate can also age. The flavours can develop and change over time, so we aim to age our chocolate for at least two weeks after each batch is made. Each batch will be poured from the grinder and then solidifies into a block like below and is wrapped to be left for a few weeks. Untempered chocolate produces a white layer on-top, which can often look like mould but we promise it is edible and looks like pieces of art!
We then temper the chocolate, which is the stage that gives chocolate that wonderful snap and shine to each bar. This is done by melting down the chocolate and then raising and lowering the temperature before pouring into the moulds. Each chocolate maker has a different method of tempering, sometimes using a machine, here at Born we still hand temper. One day we can’t wait to get our first tempering machine!
We hand wrap our bars in gold foil and then box them in recycled card ready for consumption!