What is Bean-to-Bar Chocolate?

What is Bean-to-Bar Chocolate?

Ever seen bean-to-bar (referred to as “Cacaofevier“ by Michel Cluizel) on a chocolate label or description? What does that mean?  Read on to find out.

Picture in your mind a globe with the equator running around it. Run up and down 20 degrees above and below that line and you will see the countries that are home of the Theobroma cacao tree that produces pods (some grow right out of the trunk) that contain “beans” which is the very start of where chocolate originates. The pods come in many varieties, shapes, colors, and levels of quality with each pod containing 25-50 “beans” surrounded by a whitish pulp. (When tasted at this stage the beans have an astringency and don’t taste anything like chocolate in bar form).  

Next, the pods need to be broken up, in which a machete comes in handy. All the beans need to go through an average of 5 to 7 days of the fermentation process to stop the germination process and rev up enzymatic reactions as well as other changes to bring the beans that much closer to tasting like chocolate. The beans need to be turned often for even fermentation and are typically covered in banana leaves or stored in boxes. The beans need to be watched carefully since fermentation is such a big part of developing complex flavors. 

fermenting - drying of cocoa beans

After fermentation the beans need to be thoroughly dried out, which can take another week of careful turning as they dry in the heat of the sun, bringing forth yet more range of taste. At this point, the way to tell if the beans were fermented and dried correctly is to peel and taste. The flavors should be rich, not astringent, moldy or too bitter. 

Starting with quality beans is a must, followed by proper harvesting, fermentation, drying, proper storage and shipment of the beans.  And that’s just the beginning!  Next time, find out what happens once the beans arrive to be made into Michel Cluizel’s amazing line of 'Single Estate' plantation chocolates.

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