A growing number of consumers today buy artisanal chocolate, known as “bean to bar chocolate” whenever possible.
Experienced chocolatiers consider this label to be an indication of fine quality. Yet there is often confusion about the differences in specialty, fine and craft chocolate.
For large chocolate production brands, the term of bean to bar describes a trade model. It commonly reveals that this single brand has control over every phase of the chocolate-making process, from purchasing the beans to the final stage of chocolate production. Yet there is no generally accepted definition for this term (as with the term “direct trade coffee“, which also lacks a single definition). For this reason, “bean to bar chocolate” can be interpreted and referred to in various ways.
Bean to bar is a recently created label that may very well continue to develop. It has a somewhat different connotation for smaller-scale and entrepreneurial farmers who enjoy their involvement with chocolatiers toward the final production of high-quality artisan chocolate. Expert producers of fine quality cacao and chocolate products like Juliana Aquino from Brazil state that this phrase was first used after the year 2000.
Today, more people are choosing to run lifestyle businesses like growing cocoa and making artisan chocolates. These savvy and dedicated entrepreneurs realise that producing quality artisan chocolate is both lucrative and valuable. When they create their own unique chocolate brands from bean to bar (or in some instances, tree to bar), they are true artisans. They also gain satisfaction from controlling each step of production to ensure that the result is high caliber chocolate.
The current global popularity of artisanal foods extends to products like chocolate, coffee and cheeses. Consumers approve of the fact that the origins of these edibles can be traced. Most people also think of artisanal as specialty foods that are produced by people focused on creating superior quality products.
What Are Craft Chocolate and Fine Cacao/Chocolate?
These two terms that are used to describe chocolate are even less clearly defined than is bean to bar. However, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) offer more clarity. They agree that the words “fine” and “specialty” describe quality. According to ICCO experts, in the global cocoa market, “fine or flavour” cocoa beans and “bulk or ordinary” cocoa beans are two separate categories.
What Are the Guidelines for Producing True “Bean or Tree to Bar Chocolate”?
The major principles of concern in the bean to bar trend are social, economic, transparent and technical values. Most consumers agree that the bean to bar concept/process does not guarantee fine quality. Nor does it ensure sustainability. Yet the bean to bar method is helpful for enabling producers of premier cacao and chocolatiers to work together toward achieving both of these goals.
Experts explain the rise of the bean to bar trend as the public’s answer to social and economic as well as transparent and technical issues. These aspects and concerns can be further explained in this way:
This aspect refers to the understanding of and respect for the complete cacao chain of production and the people involved.
This issue results from the treatment of every business transaction between buyers and cacao producers as Fairtrade.
Since Fairtrade seeks to benefit small-volume farmers and workers alike through trade, transparency is essential.
The use of high-quality production technology, equipment and practices is required from all bean into bar chocolate producers.
What Is Tree to Bar Chocolate?
Chocolate products with labels listing them as “tree to bar chocolate” are typically produced under the close control and supervision of the chocolatier. Usually, the cacao bean farmer and the chocolatier are closely aligned throughout the growing, harvesting and chocolate production process.
Both the farmer and the chocolatier are typically from the same locale or region of the chocolate product’s “country of origin“. Yet “tree to bar chocolate” is also a term without a single and clear definition. Its meaning may vary somewhat in different countries and regions.
For us, Anarchy Chocolate that uses the “Tree to Bar’ term on its packaging means that we used cocoa beans from our own trees to develop a unique chocolate experience.
Our cocoa trees are located in two locations in Trat province, Thailand. We first started growing cocoa trees in our permaculture food forest and later at Anarchy Farm. We are beyond organic and only employ natural farming methods, totally free from hormones, herbicides and pesticides.
Are You Curious About How to Make Bean to Bar Chocolate?
Now that we have discussed the topic of, “What does bean to bar mean?“, are you curious about how to go about making this delicious, pure artisan chocolate?
Down on the Farm
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is the plant from which chocolate originates. It is commonly cultivated in South and Central American countries as well as in the Caribbean region and in West Africa. The ideal locations for growing this plant are at a distance of 20 degrees above or below the equator.
Farmers in Thailand have also cultivated cocoa, although rubber took over a number of years ago as the country’s main product for sales and export to global markets. More recently, Thai farmers are growing cocoa again. At the time of writing, demand for cocoa far outstrips supply.
As you discover more about artisan chocolate and its origins, you may be curious about its production. Many consumers who now buy this flavourful, healthy confection regularly ask how to make bean to bar chocolate.
Cocoa’s Value to Farmers as an Inter-Crop
Cocoa is a good choice for an inter-crop. This means that it grows and thrives alongside other plant varieties. These other crops include papaya, banana, moringa and vanilla plants. This inter-cropping style of farming can create multiple and lucrative streams of income. The standard style of mono-cropping leaves farmers on somewhat perilous ground today with all eggs in one basket. By intercropping farmers are working towards being more antifragile.
The production chain resulting in excellent bean into bar chocolate begins on the cacao farm. Here, the cacao fruit matures in brightly coloured pods that grow on tall trees. As the fruit ripens, the pods are cut down carefully by labourers. The fruit is then split in half to expose a thick white pulp that protects the ripe cacao beans. The combination of pulp and beans is fermented for five to seven days.
The length of time allowed for fermentation is dependent on the local climate and the farmer’s plans for the harvested fruit. Next, the workers will take the cacao beans out of the fermentation containers to dry them, either on patios or inside drying machines. After these beans reach a moisture content level equaling 7 to 7.5 percent, they are ready to be stored for transport to chocolatiers.
Expert Chocolatier at Work
Small-scale chocolatier operations have expertise in selecting the ideal high-caliber cacao beans. These chocolate producers purchase the best-suited beans for their companies’ chocolate profiles. These experts perform the process of producing their flavourful chocolate by roasting, grinding, refining, conching, tempering and molding each bar to perfection.
Each production step must comply with high standards in order for the result to be fine artisanal chocolate. This method of making handcrafted chocolate is an art form. Each stage of production must be carefully overseen and performed with expertise and precision to achieve excellence.
Do You Wonder Where to Buy Bean to Bar Chocolate in Thailand Today?
You can buy different brands of bean into bar chocolate in many markets, stores and gift shops across the Land of Smiles and globally. A wide selection is also available online through Amazon, Etzy and eBay. In Thailand, recommended brands of this type of quality artisanal chocolate can be purchased on the websites of the following chocolatiers:
SiamMaya Chocolate – Chiang Mai
Kad Kakoa – Bangkok
Xoconat Chocolate – Bangkok
Mark Rin Chocolate – Chiang Mai
Clean Chocolate – Chiang Mai
Paradai Chocolate – Bangkok
Subscribe to our Anarchy Chocolate blog today to follow our fascinating artisan tree to bar and bean to bar chocolate-making journey. We welcome you to join us for an innovative and enlightening excursion into the intriguing experience of growing cocoa and the delicious world of creating chocolate products, from pure cacao bean to irresistible chocolate bar confection.
What Does Bean to Bar Mean?