What They’d Like Us to Know
We asked a variety of chocolate makers from the around world to answer the following question…
What is one thing you wish the average consumer knew about chocolate?
We felt it would be great to put up all of the answer in one place, a crash course from the people who choose to tackle cacao.
As in wine tasting, chocolate tasting can be very complex and entertaining. But for that it must be of high quality.
-Sam Giha, Cacaosuyo
We’d like people to know the difference between a chocolate-maker and a chocolatier. Although there many more new cocoa bean-to-bar companies coming to market, they are still a very small segment versus the vast majority who are only “chocolate melters”, if they make bars. Or chocolatiers, if they make bonbons.
–Dominque & Cindy Duby, Wild Sweets
We use a natural method that takes a least 12 months from purchasing the beans to the salable chocolate.
We use only certified cocoa, buy from certified co-operatives that do not use child labor.
–Guido Castagna, Guido Castagna
We wish that the customer recognizes the complex flavors inside the chocolate itself, not only the bitter and the sweet. Once this is revealed, we are optimistic they will appreciate real chocolate more then they do today.
–Irvan Helmi, Pipiltin
I would love for the average consumer to know how much work goes into chocolate before it is chocolate at all. Beyond the extensive work we do ourselves I think people are better recognizing the impact of terroir (genetics, growing conditions, etc.) on final chocolate flavor. I think there can be this idea that cacao is just a raw material, but so much prior work has really made it a value added specialty product, and one which allows us to make great chocolate.
–Carol Morse, Acalli
The one thing that the average consumer should know is that commercial chocolate is almost always a blend of different beans from different countries while craft chocolate is typically a single origin.
–Paul Picton, Maverick
That it is derived from cacao, the tastiest rainforest fruit ever, and that – if the chocolate is pure and top-quality – one should be able to taste the terroir of the different rainforest origins.
–Philipp Kauffmann, Original Beans
One of the main things we get comments on, on a regular basis from our customers when they come into the shop is their fascination and incredulity that a bar of chocolate comes from this bean within this pod!! We have beans in the shop and sometimes pods for people to try and they just love that this magic alchemic thing happens to make it into chocolate. People are just mesmerized by that.
–Jo Sayer, Kakaw
We wish the average consumer knew that chocolate is not “perfect by nature”. The beans, if we respect their growing and all the necessary steps for them to be usable, tend to vary a lot.
Indeed, since they are subject to various climatic and post-treatment changes, their taste will inevitably vary as well! Regardless of their origin and variety, during the growth of the cocoa pods, a lot of factors come into play, like irrigation, sunlight/shade, humidity. These factors, from one period to another will obviously tend to change and affect the final taste of the beans (and of the chocolate, subsequently).
–Franck, Chocolaterie A. Morin
I’d like to tell to my customers that the world of chocolate is concentrated in the hands of very big manufacturers, slowly killing the craft of making chocolate. They take all the land, the market, and create schools to train people to use their pre-temper easy to use couverture. They have million of dollars to invest in marketing to convince chocolatiers to use their product. As soon as chocolatiers start to use chocolate from small makers, and as soon as they will be ready to really learn how to temper chocolate, we will have a revolution.
–Dany Marquis, Chaleur B
That there is more than white, milk and dark chocolate in the world. That and that
each region in the world that grows cacao has that unique flavour in their cacao beans. Lots of people don’t even know what real chocolate tastes like.
–Philippe Lehner, Habitual
I guess the most curious thing to me is that so many people view chocolate as a “junk” food. My hope is that as people have more exposure to the real thing they will be able to distinguish the difference between good chocolate and candy.
–Becks, Take a Fancy
I also think that most people don’t know what bean-to-bar is, and that a lot of chocolate companies are not bean-to-bar. This is something that gets under my skin as a bean-to-bar producer: companies claiming to make chocolate when in fact they are melting pellets and molding bars.
–Aura Hertzog, Ambrosia Pastry Co.
The pleasure that you get from eating chocolate doesn’t just come from its wonderful taste and rich texture. Researchers have confirmed that chocolate affects serotonin levels in the body, triggering feelings of well-being. At the same time, chocolate increases blood flow to the brain and helps to reduce fatigue and increase alertness.
–Julie McLean, Sibu Sura
That barsmiths are artisans just like those that work in pottery, glass blowing, weaving, chair making, and jewelry design. It requires knowledge, dedication, time, creativity and talent.
-Rom Still & Barbara Price, Brasstown
That there’s a difference between chocolate and confectionary – if it contains more sugar and milk and oils than cacao, it is confectionary. Most people are not addicted to chocolate, but to the fats and sugars most chocolate is full of.
–Jorge Salazar, La Iguana
The one thing I wish average customers knew about chocolate is understanding the distinction between craft and larger industrial chocolate. In the South, it’s still a struggle to get customers to understand the difference between the two.
That chocolate comes from a fruit.
–Jennifer Roy, Dandelion
We’d love for the average consumer to know that chocolate does grow in the United States (Hawaii) and what an amazing and nutritional food it really is!
–Pam & Bob Cooper, The Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory
I wish chocolate consumers would begin to visit cacao regions of the world and taste gourmet chocolate, while overlooking the cacao forest!
-Paul Johnson, Caribeans Chocolate
The incredible multi-step process that transforms cacao from tree-to-bean and bean-to-bar. It is this awareness that craft chocolate makers are spreading and it is not commonly known by the consumer. It is necessary for the consumer to understand what lies behind the $8+ chocolate bar.
–Adam Kavalier, Undone
I tell them that I only add organic raw cane sugar to what they are tasting and then I let them try my finish product. They are always amazed and really appreciate my work, but it requires some education.
–Christine Blais, Palette de Bine
I’d like the average consumer to understand that chocolate can only be as good as the ingredients that go into it, and if you will pardon the gambling analogy, making perfect chocolate is like keeping sixes rolling from a pair of dice: you start with the best cacao you can get your hands on and then you have to roast, winnow, conch… and every new part of the process is just another occasion to ruin the whole thing, so it’s really tough to make perfect score, but that’s what we’re aiming for nonetheless.
-Sam Maruta, Marou
We wish the average consumer knew of the vast complexity and variety cacao beans, just like the variations found in wine or coffee. And that it can be just as diverse, complex and unique in flavor as those too. Cacao is a plant, and it takes in wonderful flavors from its environment, and produces something beautiful (and delicious). I think most bean-to-bar makers aim to enhance and highlight these unique flavors, as do we, so our customers can enjoy the variety that true chocolate has to offer.
–Lauren Blanco, Hello Cocoa
We roast our beans in small batches right in our store in Pike Place Market and are proud to continue the Market’s rich history of being able to “meet the maker”. It’s a labor of love that rewards us each time we see the smiling faces of our customers enjoying indi chocolate.
–Erin Andrews, indi chocolate
Jasmine co-founded Chocolate Codex as a way to share her enthusiasm for chocolate. She has a certificate in Chocolate making from Ecole Chocolat and she runs a foodblog called The Blenderist.