Sort – The first step we do after receiving bags of dried cacao from the farms is sorting. This is done to remove any small rocks or twigs that may have gotten mixed into the beans while on the drying pad. It is also removes any “flat” beans that have little to no nib inside.
Roast – Every cacao bean is different. When we receive a bag of beans from a new farm we start by roasting small test batches. This is done to determine how long and at what temperature provide the best roast profile for that particular bean. There are many reasons for roasting
Crack & Winnow – In this stage we do exactly as the name says; we crack the bean. Roasted and cooled beans are run through a grinder to crack the beans. The nibs and husk are separated through a series of fans and ducting blowing the lighter nubs to their compartment while the heavier nibs fall into their compartment.
Refining – The mélanger is sometimes referred to as a chocolate refiner. At this stage we take the chocolate liquor from the pre-grinder and refine it. Sugar, extra cocoa butter, and sometimes powdered cream are added at this stage. The particles of sugar and cacao are broken down as the heavy granite wheels grind the chocolate against the granite floor of the mélanger bowl. The chocolate becomes chocolate in the mélanger.
Temper - The purpose of this step is to completely destroy any crystal structure through warming the chocolate. This sounds counterintuitive but chocolate has five crystal structures that can form. We are looking for only one, the beta #5 crystal. Through a cycle of heating and cooling then rewarming we will build this crystal structure in the chocolate. If we do this step correctly the chocolate will have nice a mouth feel, it will have the desired snap when we break a piece off, and it will contract as it cools making it easy to remove from the mold.
Mold – Tempered chocolate is poured into our polycarbonate molds. When making solid chocolate bars we next place the mold on the vibrating table to remove any air bubbles from the chocolate. Then we place the bar molds into the cooler to set. Once the chocolate is set we remove the bars from their molds and allow it to rest for several hours before packaging them. We use a vegetable-based plastic sleeve to protect the chocolate from the elements instead of a traditional plastic sleeve.
If we are making bonbons we put chocolate into the mold then place the mold on the vibrating table to remove the air bubbles. Next we pour the mold back out scraping the surface to give a clean edge on the mold cavities. This leaves a thin layer of chocolate in mold cavities. Then we place the mold in the cooler to allow for the chocolate to set. Once it is set we pipe in chocolate ganache or the desired fillings then close the mold with more chocolate placing it back in the cooler. When the chocolate is fully set we pop the truffles or bars out of their mold and package.