Originally posted by jfguatemala
… Can be a good (Gourmet) chocolate developed in industrial quantities?
Within limits, yes, but it must be understood that this has very clear limits. The fundamental issue is this: good quality cacao beans are produced in very limited quantities, and this puts a limit on how much one can produce of any chocolate made from these beans. Quite frequently even the entire supply from a given source wouldn’t even come close to supplying the needs of a major industrial manufacturer for a single production run. Understandably, then, most of the supply ends up in the hands of the smaller manufacturers who don’t need so much.
If an industrial manufacturer wishes to make a quality chocolate, he must first decide on a relatively high-volume set of sources of reasonable-quality cocoa, and then put every effort into maximising their potential. Sometimes this can be successful, but the effort is large and so often even a promising chocolate ends up only in limited release because the manufacturer decides that they can’t commit the resources to a large run, or because their initial sales don’t seem to justify the effort in profit terms.
This is the second key point: an industrial manufacturer will usually approach quality more from a profit potential POV than from a quality-for-its-own-sake POV. They are less likely to be uncompromising and also more likely to discontinue any product no matter how good that doesn’t meet their target sales figures. None of these are absolute barriers but it serves to underscore the reality that the considerations are different for the 2 different manufacturer types.
What this means for the chocolate connoisseur is that you can’t expect to be able to predict based on past experience either with the manufacturer or even with the specific chocolate that the quality will exceed a certain standard. It might, it might not, but you are always taking a gamble and when it pays off, it’s a happy dividend. It is inadvisable to fall in love with a great industrial chocolate beause it could be here today, gone tomorrow.
You also have to be prepared for simpler, more basic flavours. Rarely will these chocolates explode with complexity. Rather, they may show commendable balance and good overall chocolatiness without necessarily being unusually distinctive. So if strong styles are critical to you in an assessment of quality you may well be disappointed.
in your opinion, which are the best companies that fall into this category?
All that said, there are companies who do seem at least to make the appearance of trying. Of the companies I’ve tried, probably the ones who seem to have the greatest chance of a quality product are Lindt and Guittard. Guittard is something of a special case because they have 2 more-or-less separate lines, a quality line and a bulk line. The quality line is produced on a considerably smaller (though still big) scale and is much more expensive. However, it can be very good (see for example Chucuri). Lindt is a company who seem to have made a major change and recommitment to quality after a period of real mediocrity. However, some lingering doubts remain, e.g. the infamous “prune” flavouring in the Ecuador (a definitive answer to which I have yet to receive) or apparent inconsistencies in different countries’ 85%.