From bean to bar, here's exactly how our chocolate is made
Ethereal Confections out of Illinois sources cacao beans from around the world, working with partners that use 100% organic ingredients and fair treatment and pay for their employees. So when we were sourcing chocolate makers, we knew they'd be a good fit.
Before Valentine's Day, we're re-releasing Death Wish Coffee Chocolate Bars with an imprinted skull and crossbones and our coffee, of course. But their process goes far beyond adding our coffee into their delicious chocolate.
They use "bean to bar," which means they source the best cocoa from around the world. Currently, they source from Central and South America, specifically Haiti, The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Ecuador.
We sent them our whole bean coffee, and they held a cupping and taste test session to find exactly what chocolate to pair with our coffee — Here's exactly how it happened.
All photos and videos provided by Michael Ervin from Ethereal Confections.
This is the area in Haiti from which Ethereal Confections sources its cocoa beans. Haiti is a major constituent of Death Wish Chocolate Bars, and the other source is the Dominican Republic. The farms are about 300 miles away, but the flavors are quite a bit different, Michael Ervin, one of the owners said.
A pile of cacao pods from Haiti. These pods mostly grow out of the trunks of cacao trees.
A cut open cacao pod. Color of the pods does not indicate ripeness, but rather the genetics of the plant. The pulp of the fruit taste like mango or fruit tarts. The seeds inside are used to make chocolate.
Roast & Winnow
After the beans are sourced, they're inspected, sorted, and roasted!
Roasted beans waiting to cool.
After beans are roasted, the cocoa husk separates from the bean. In order to completely remove the husk, the beans must be broken. This process is called winnowing.
"Getting a good, clean nib means better flavor. Husks make the final chocolate more bitter," their website reads. "And who likes picking husks out of their teeth!?"
Winnowed nibs ready to be included in a batch of chocolate!
Grind & Conche
Above is Ethereal Confection's stone grinder, and below is their batch white board.
During grinding and conching, the taste, smell, and texture of chocolate are developed. Grinding releases fat by breaking the cell walls of the nibs.
"We then add sugar and grind for 24 hours to reduce the particle size below 50 microns—the size at which your tongue can no longer feel roughness. Chocolate is a suspension so the grinding process also fully envelopes the sugar particles in chocolate. We also add extra cocoa butter during this process to give a better mouth feel," their website reads.
"The conching process immediately follows the grind and continually mixes the chocolate while the friction keeps it heated. This exposes the chocolate to air and allows many volatile compounds to evaporate. It smells really great in the shop while we do this! But it also results in a smooth tasting chocolate without a lot of bite," their website says.
Ethereal Confection's tempering machines, which is where they will make all of our Death Wish Coffee Chocolate Bars. Chocolate is tempered similar to glass or steel.
I could watch this all day.
After this, the bars are added to our molds, the cocoa and coffee nibs are added for that extra crunch, and it's wrapped and ready to go!
Stay tuned — these bad boys are coming back soon in time for Valentine's Day. But in the meantime, enter our contest below for a chance to our chocolate before it's released.