Just like with baking bread and making pastry, chocolate making can be divided into different stages. Each stage requires a careful eye, nose and ear to ensure that subtle changes in the beans, plus variations in temperature and humidity are taken into account.
Cleaning and Sorting – This stage involves removing any debris from the beans, sorting the beans and removing beans that are slate-y or improperly dried, and a quick roast at high heat to pasteurise the beans.
Roasting - Each bean variety is tested at different roast levels to ensure that the roast brings out the best qualities of the cocoa's flavour profile. The beans are roasted in our bread ovens which provide a constant, even heat, on specially designed trays which allow the heat to circulate evenly around the beans.
Breaking - The beans are roughly crushed to break the outer shell apart and break the inside into cocoa nibs.
Winnowing - The beans are sent through a machine which uses air to separate the light, flaky pieces of outer shell from the heavy cocoa beans, much like how wind would have been used in the past to separate the chaff from the husk of wheat.
Grinding - The grinding of the cocoa happens in two stages. Firstly, the cocoa nibs alone are sent through a nut grinding machine (originally invented to make peanut butter). This produces a thick paste and begins to soften the fats in the cocoa. Then the paste is mixed with sugar and ground in the conching machine until the sugar particles are only to 20 microns across.
Conching - Conching, or stirring, is a slow process which takes up to three days. This process allows the volatile organic acids to slowly evaporate and therefore yields better flavours.
Maturing - At this stage the chocolate is left to mature for a month or so. This time allows the flavours to meld together and improves the flavour of the finished chocolate.
Tempering - This process of heating and cooling the chocolate to very precise temperatures ensures that the chocolate crystals are stable and prevents blooming, or the formation of white patterns in the chocolate. It also produces a distinctive snap and shiny finish.
Molding - The finished product is then poured into molds, allowed to set and packaged for sale.
Each batch of chocolate that we make has a batch number that you will find at the top of the package on the round sticker.