Art and Craft

Recently we’ve been helping some start up ventures get going on their own fine chocolate journeys. One big lesson I’ve learnt from this is that it’s not so easy making or working with fine chocolate – if you want to achieve a top notch result that is. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it takes a lot of understanding and patience, and most of all – vision.

To make the best fine and origin chocolate, you must first understand every aspect that determines the quality of fine chocolate. You must realise that chocolate production, whether from beans or from couverture, is about the care and handling of ingredients at every stage. This includes the growing, selection, fermentation, storage and transportation of the beans, good production techniques and recipes for your blend or origin chocolate, and appropriate packing, storing and handling of your finished product.

This list is very easy to run off, just not so easy to achieve. There’s a good reason for this, and I have would say that behind every great, artisanal fine chocolate brand is at least one truly obsessive chocolate visionary. Someone who ‘gets’ fine chocolate – the nuances, detail, history, qualities and the whole concept that chocolate is as subtle and varied as wine. Without such a ‘visionary’ a brand will be just that – a brand. Take a look at the chocolate makers you know, big and small, and you can see this in action. Favourites of this site like Domori, Amedei, Cluizel and even big players like Valrhona all have had individuals with passion and depth of knowledge behind their success. Equally, the results from producers – industrial or small – without this instinct for real chocolate are often bland, disappointing and sometimes sickly sweet. Sadly such makers usually pay more attention to packaging and presentation than to their chocolate. … And just saying a product is good on the wrapper, does not make it good!

So, hats off to the true chocolate visionaries that have made the fine chocolate revolution possible and brought us the wonderful creations we have been lucky enough to experience in the last few years. To the others I say – catch up, realise the depth in the material you are dealing with – and don’t miss out on this revolution, consumers are on to you!

And to any chocolate lovers out there not yet converted to the cause of fine chocolate, try some of the good stuff and find out what you’re missing … for these are truly good times to be a chocoholic.

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