In a nutshell, chocolate that’s made entirely from scratch, beginning with the cacao beans and developed entirely by the chocolate maker by roasting, cracking, winnowing, grinding, conching, tempering, moulding and packing the finished chocolate bar. However, most of the ‘premium’ chocolate on supermarket shelves is made from pre-made chocolate blocks bought from large companies or made by using cocoa powder with added fats, oils and preservatives. Unlike commercial chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker has complete control over the type and quality of the cacao bean used, the roasting method and the flavour development. The process gives personality and incomparable quality control to each batch of chocolate.
Why small batch chocolate?
Small batch chocolate makers like us, work with small amounts of beans usually from one harvest and/or from one farm. Just like wine, cacao beans have ‘terroir’ which means that the environmental and farm conditions will give the beans a unique flavour and aroma. We work hard to preserve and develop these special flavours in each batch we make.
A word about ‘Single Origin’ and the ingredients.
Single Origin means that the beans have been sourced from one area and usually one farm and that they have not been mixed with any other beans. This is to preserve and highlight unique flavours. As far as what’s in the bar, you only need two ingredients to make chocolate: cacao beans and sugar. We believe the best chocolate is made from whole cacao beans, minimal sugar and some added cacao butter for extra smoothness. The only other ingredient used by quality chocolate makers that we think is acceptable is soy lecithin, it creates the same smoothness as cacao butter but at a lower cost. Any ingredient in the base chocolate other than these is a warning sign that the chocolate may not be of high quality. Especially any vegetable oils or preservatives.
Why Dark Chocolate?
For flavour and for health. At Mason & Co, we focus on dark chocolate so you can really taste and enjoy the unique and individual flavours of the cacao beans. Cacao is actually a superfood and in its natural form is really healthy for us. Chocolate is only bad for us when excessive amounts of milk and sugar are added. We want to maintain the health-promoting agents in cacao so we keep the chocolate nice and dark.
What about Tree-to-Bar?
Tree to Bar is one step more than bean-to-bar. This means that the chocolate maker actually has control over the cacao crop, either at the planting or post harvesting stage or both. At Mason & Co, we work directly with our farmer partners and we train farmers in processing cacao with a focus on quality and flavour. Our direct access and relationships with the farmers means we could go as far as to call ourselves Tree-to-Bar chocolate makers!