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Bean to Bar 101

The bean-to-bar movement - and it is a movement - emerged out of the ashes of the Great Recession when many people were either laid off from or became disillusioned with their jobs. As the movement evolved and the industry grew it became populated by more than just ex-bankers, lawyers and MFA's. This diverse group of entrepreneurs now includes Silicon Valley geeks, award winning pastry chefs, at-risk Vancouver women, & twenty-somethings galore.

Today, there are well over a hundred bean-to-bar makers in Canada and the United States alone, with many more scattered around the world. Depending on how well equipped they are, bean-to-bar makers can operate out of large factories or small apartment kitchens. No matter their background, the chocolate making process remains more of less the same.

The craft of making chocolate begins with a cacao bean...

That's harvested by a farmer.

Actually, children harvest most mass-produced chocolate, but bean-to-bar makers are very particular about where they source their beans. Once the relationship between maker and farmer has been forged and a fair price negotiated, the farmer then harvest, ferment and dry the beans before shipping them off to the maker. Makers then roast, crack, winnow, grind, conche, temper and finally wrap the bars.

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Harvest

The process begins with harvesting. Ripe cocoa pods are harvested twice a year. The harvest times vary from region to region, but the process of turning it into chocolate begins immediately. The pods are cut open with machetes and the white pulp containing the cocoa beans is scooped out. Not all cocoa harvests are created equal. Everything from geography, to soil type to the climatic conditions of the harvest have a huge impact on the beans and the chocolate’s flavour profile.

For each of their bars, Marou sources its beans from a different Vietnamese province. The different regions or ‘terroirs’ produce bars with a distinctive taste. Compare the red fruits of their Ba Ria bar to the spicier notes of their Dong Nai bar, made from the neighbouring provinces of the same names.

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Ferment

The pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers, where the pulp is allowed to ferment for five to seven days. During the process, the beans are turned to help them ferment more evenly. This is the first stage in developing the flavour of the chocolate, and part of the reason why a farmer can have a direct impact on the quality of the finished chocolate.

Danish chocolate maker Mikel Friis Holm makes two bars using beans from the same origin, to the same recipe. The only difference is that the beans in one were turned twice during fermentation, and the beans in the other were turned three times in fermentation. Compare the floral peach notes of the double churned to the punchier citrus notes of the triple churned.

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The bean-to-bar movement - and it is a movement - emerged out of the ashes of the Great Recession when many people were either laid off from or became disillusioned with their jobs. As the movement evolved and the industry grew it became populated by more than just ex-bankers, lawyers and MFA's. This diverse group of entrepreneurs now includes Silicon Valley geeks, award winning pastry chefs, at-risk Vancouver women, & twenty-somethings galore.

Today, there are well over a hundred bean-to-bar makers in Canada and the United States alone, with many more scattered around the world. Depending on how well equipped they are, bean-to-bar makers can operate out of large factories or small apartment kitchens. No matter their background, the chocolate making process remains more of less the same.

The craft of making chocolate begins with a cacao bean...

That's harvested by a farmer.

Actually, children harvest most mass-produced chocolate, but bean-to-bar makers are very particular about where they source their beans. Once the relationship between maker and farmer has been forged and a fair price negotiated, the farmer then harvest, ferment and dry the beans before shipping them off to the maker. Makers then roast, crack, winnow, grind, conche, temper and finally wrap the bars.

The bean-to-bar movement - and it is a movement - emerged out of the ashes of the Great Recession when many people were either laid off from or became disillusioned with their jobs. As the movement evolved and the industry grew it became populated by more than just ex-bankers, lawyers and MFA's. This diverse group of entrepreneurs now includes Silicon Valley geeks, award winning pastry chefs, at-risk Vancouver women, & twenty-somethings galore.

Today, there are well over a hundred bean-to-bar makers in Canada and the United States alone, with many more scattered around the world. Depending on how well equipped they are, bean-to-bar makers can operate out of large factories or small apartment kitchens. No matter their background, the chocolate making process remains more of less the same.

The craft of making chocolate begins with a cacao bean...

That's harvested by a farmer.

Actually, children harvest most mass-produced chocolate, but bean-to-bar makers are very particular about where they source their beans. Once the relationship between maker and farmer has been forged and a fair price negotiated, the farmer then harvest, ferment and dry the beans before shipping them off to the maker. Makers then roast, crack, winnow, grind, conche, temper and finally wrap the bars.

The bean-to-bar movement - and it is a movement - emerged out of the ashes of the Great Recession when many people were either laid off from or became disillusioned with their jobs. As the movement evolved and the industry grew it became populated by more than just ex-bankers, lawyers and MFA's. This diverse group of entrepreneurs now includes Silicon Valley geeks, award winning pastry chefs, at-risk Vancouver women, & twenty-somethings galore.

Today, there are well over a hundred bean-to-bar makers in Canada and the United States alone, with many more scattered around the world. Depending on how well equipped they are, bean-to-bar makers can operate out of large factories or small apartment kitchens. No matter their background, the chocolate making process remains more of less the same.

The craft of making chocolate begins with a cacao bean...

That's harvested by a farmer.

Actually, children harvest most mass-produced chocolate, but bean-to-bar makers are very particular about where they source their beans. Once the relationship between maker and farmer has been forged and a fair price negotiated, the farmer then harvest, ferment and dry the beans before shipping them off to the maker. Makers then roast, crack, winnow, grind, conche, temper and finally wrap the bars.

Bean to Bar 101
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