As a food writer for Zagat, I used to scribble stories about all sorts of people: chefs, butcher, bakers. About seven years ago, I had an interesting interview with a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. I learned all about how she created her chocolate from scratch. Instead of telling me about commonplace machines like grinders and enrobers, she started talking about using rotisserie chicken roasters, juicers, and hair dryers!
Welcome to the charming — and wacky — world of bean-to-bar chocolate.
What does “Bean to Bar” Mean?
“Bean to bar” means that they’re starting with whole cocoa beans and roasting, grinding, and transforming them into chocolate themselves, from scratch. It’s a movement similar to specialty coffee or craft beer. Since that fateful day that I tried my first“bean to bar” chocolate I’ve been obsessed with the stuff because:
1) It’s the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
2) The people and their stories are just so darn interesting.
How do I choose the chocolate?
I’ve spent the past five to seven years eating chocolate professionally (it’s a hard job). Much of it is from small companies located anywhere from Brooklyn to Lithuania that many of us have never even heard of. I then took my experiences and created a one-of-a-kind virtual tasting, teaching teams how chocolate is made, helping them discover the fascinating and sometimes hilarious stories of these small companies, and compare and contrast the chocolates the way you would a fine wine.
Curated Online Chocolate Tasting
For my tastings, I curate my favorite bars, chocolate that I keep coming back to over and over, and that I know you will too. We taste some of my favorite bars, learn the stories behind them, and play chocolate-related games.
I also select bars that will take us on a couple of types of journeys.
We’ll travel from:
- High-percentage chocolate to low
- Inclusion bars to milk to mylk (that’s short for alternative milks, and they’re surprisingly some of my favorites)
We’ll also travel across the world. Chocolate tastes different depending on where the cocoa beans are grown, and so we’ll journey to:
- Dominican Republic
How Does It Work Remotely?
When you sign your team up for a virtual chocolate tasting, I’ll send you and each of your colleagues my curated collection of three full-size bars. Then we’ll hop on Zoom at an appointed time and I’ll guide you through the tasting! Afterward, we’ll play fun games, and of course, there will be time for all of your chocolatey questions.
Megan Giller is a food writer and the author of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Slate, Zagat, and Food & Wine, and her blog Chocolate Noise was a 2016 Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist. She also hosts luxury chocolate-tasting events, teaches classes at the Institute of Culinary Education and other locales, and judges at chocolate competitions. Follow her on Instagram at @chocolatenoise.
So how are chocolate makers using rotisserie chicken roasters, juicers, and hair dryers to make the most amazing chocolate you’ve ever tried? Well, I guess you’ll have to contact us and attend one of my tastings to find out!