Cacao beans vary in color, shape, flavor, and texture based on origin. Each harvest brings forth new, subtle distinctions in the cacao; we study these seasonal qualities, adjusting various elements batch by batch until our vision for the chocolate is fully realized.
Only then do we proceed into boutique production—in slow, meticulous movement through each step. The process has exacting standards, requiring, on our part, quiet discipline, extreme patience, and a delicate touch. Each step must be executed perfectly in preparation for the next, as flavor development is nurtured throughout the entire production.
Here is how we oversee the evolution of our cacao into chocolate . . .
Sorting We hand-sort our cacao beans in order to process only premium beans.
Baby Drum Roasting In our baby drum roaster, even a matter of seconds can make a difference; we remain steadfast in our vigil, moment by pivotal moment. Chemical reactions during roasting are complex: they play a central role in reducing the natural tannins of raw beans. We roast each variety of cacao according to its distinct properties, an early step which enriches the aroma, color, and flavor of the finished chocolate. Opening the beans mid-roast allows us to gauge their progress; as we rub them in the palms of our hands, they should release from their outer skin and break into tender nibs, emitting a subtle precursor scent. When the beans have finished roasting, an intoxicating cacao aroma surrounds us.
Winnowing After roasting, we remove the thin shell or husk from the beans, resulting in pure cacao nibs.
Grinding Next, we grind the cacao nibs in a mill to a warm paste.
Refining We mix the paste with Louisiana cane sugar or Vermont maple sugar and feed through a refiner to begin the refining process. Refining reduces the size of the cacao particles and sugar crystals and is essential to forming chocolate’s optimum, velvety-smooth texture.
Conching After refining, the chocolate is transferred into a mélangeur to conch. At this point, the chocolate is still high in acidity generated during fermentation. The step of conching kneads the chocolate slowly and gently. Through continuous aeration, heat, and motion, the chocolate evolves—acids are released and residual tannins are removed enabling the natural flavors to soften and become more elegant. Time is a primary component in making rich, flavorful chocolate.
Aging We pour the finished chocolate into containers and let it age for one to three months in our chocolate cave, allowing the flavors to coalesce and mature.
Tempering & Molding Tempering involves careful control of the temperature of chocolate as it melts down and cools, so that when it sets, it will have a shiny surface, a clean snap, and a silky, gorgeous mouthfeel. We temper and mold our chocolate into bars, blocks, chips, batons, thin wave-like pieces, and shapes of all kinds.
Packaging We wrap our chocolate by hand with artisan papers that are soft to the touch, complementing our work.