Bean to Bar

What is “Bean to Bar”? 

At Banyan Tree Chocolate & Café, we craft our own Single-Origin Chocolate Bars from scratch, directly from the Cacao Beans. 

We carefully select cacao beans from verified sustainable and organic farms; they come from a long list of locations, including Fiji, Belize, Madagascar, Peru and Venezuela. 

Because we make the Bars from scratch, we control the recipe precisely, to deliver the best flavors, and we can produce distinctive Single-Origin chocolate rather than relying on homogenous blends. Just as with fine wine, this allows the “terroir” of the Cacao to shine through, and our customers can enjoy comparing chocolate from different parts of the world.

The way we craft our small-batch Bean-to-Bar Chocolate is inherently lengthy and labor-intensive; but the effort is justified, producing a product that is overwhelmingly more interesting, complex and luxurious than mass-produced bars.

The steps we take to produce our bars include selecting and purchasing beans (that have been fermented at source), roasting the beans (somewhat like roasting coffee), grinding the beans using a Mélanger for 24-hours or more, mixing in other ingredients, and then tempering, molding and packaging the bars. 

We produce Dark Chocolate at 70%-80% Cacao content as well as some Milk Chocolate at around 45% Cacao content. Our Milk Chocolate represents a re-birth of an often-maligned chocolate type – this is not mass-produced Milk Chocolate, and it is no longer a guilty pleasure!

We continuously look for Cacao from different regions of the world and from different farmers, and we are always experimenting with other ingredients, including Coconut Milk. Come into the store to see what we have crafted recently!

The chocolate you love begins as cacao beans that are grown, harvested, fermented, dried and shipped from cacao farms that operate within 10° north and south of the Equator.

Cacao beans are fermented, roasted, cracked and then winnowed to separate the beans from their shells.

For mass-produced chocolate, the beans are ground and placed under high pressure to yield cocoa butter and cocoa powder. 

For small-batch chocolate, the beans are ground, mixed and kneaded with a selection of other ingredients, including cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. (In great chocolate, the cacao percentage comes more from the beans than from cocoa butter.) 

Conching is next – the mixture is rolled, kneaded, heated and aerated in a machine that produces smooth and consistent chocolate. Additional ingredients may be added, such as more cocoa butter or lecithin, to achieve the desired texture and flavor.  

Tempering brings the chocolate to the desired temperature, where the product reaches its stable form. It is then molded into the final shape and packaged for distribution and sale. 

NOTE: This is such a labor intensive process, we only produce a few micro batches each summer. 


Why do hand-made chocolate bars cost more?

Chocolate crafted by hand offers more unique taste and texture opportunities than mass-produced chocolate, but the process is labor-intensive. Premium cacao used by chocolate makers costs more than commodity cacao used in mass-produced chocolate. It is often obtained from Fair Trade and organic growers, rather than large corporate plantations. Other ingredients in hand-crafted chocolates are also usually of a premium grade, and of course, buying ingredients in smaller quantities is more costly.

Chocolate makers that are making these delicious treats by hand are focused on creating a delicious and memorable experience for their customers. Mass-producers of chocolate are more concerned with consistency, sales volume and profit. 

Quality vs. quantity – We support great quality at Banyan Tree Chocolate & Café.   

What is Fair Trade?

Fair trade is an arrangement that helps producers in developing countries receive fair prices for their products from buyers in developed countries. It helps support sustainable farming and product development, as well as the rights of workers and small producers. 

The Fair Trade movement was started in the 1950s, and in 1997, Fair Trade USA was founded, which researches producers and assigns Fair Trade certification when required standards have been met. The Fair Trade Committee will help set up a “Premium Fund” that help with financing a designated project to improve the community. 

What type of cacao beans make the best chocolate bars?

Cacao beans come from 11 primary varieties of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), in addition to a variety of cultivars and hybrids. There are three main families of cacao: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario (a cross between Criollo and Forastero). Some of the most coveted beans are Nacional (Equador), a member of the Forastero family. 

Selecting beans and experimenting with how to bring out the best of their unique characteristics is part of a chocolate makers labor and joy. Each has a different flavor profile, some more floral, some fruity. At Banyan Tree Chocolate, we search out and bring in a variety of cacao beans, in order to produce a diversity of flavors. We have our favorites, but we always enjoy experimenting and developing new chocolate creations to amaze and delight our customers.  

The best chocolate bars, like the best wines, are the ones that you enjoy the most. We hope that when you try our hand-made “Bean to Bar” chocolate bars, you’ll find them most enjoyable. 

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