Time to savour the craft (and read the small print)

28 Apr


By contrast, mass produced chocolate can see a bean turned into a bar in a few hours. It uses a completely different approach. Time is – literally – money. The faster, and more efficient, the better. Flavour, taste and texture can all be added later. The machines have to be kept running and utilised. (Sidenote: this gives rise to the challenge of “mass balance fair trade” bars where the beans in these fair trade bars may not be themselves “fair trade” as this would require the machines to be stopped, cleaned, changed over, etc. So their is an exemption allowed and beans are “balanced out”)

Indeed the very roasting approach of mass produced bars is completely different to craft makers roasting. Instead of first roasting the beans, and then removing the shells, most mass produced chocolate bars reverse the process. Beans are steamed, shells removed and the nibs are roasted. This is more efficient (yields go up by 3-5%). But it doesn’t optimise flavour. Think freeze dried coffee versus freshly roasted, and then ground, coffee beans. Faster and more efficient. But not the same flavour.

Next mass produced chocolate uses high pressures and massive grinders to turn the roasted nibs into chocolate liquor. And then they temper and mould. It’s fast. It’s efficient. It’s MASSIVE. Craft chocolate is in batches of between 10-500kgs. Mass produced chocolate stars with batches of 2,500 kgs and goes to hundreds of thousand kilos / tonnes per batch. However, to put it mildly, this is not great for flavour. But that’s what additives are for!

And then very often mass produced chocolate will remove the cocoa butter and replace with other ingredients. Why? These other ingredients are far cheaper. Palm oil, vegetable fat and PGPR (don’t ask) are a lot cheaper than cocoa butter. And sugar is far, far cheaper than even cocoa powder (what’s left over when the cocoa butter is extracted). And sugar is VERY addictive.


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