If you don’t drink alcohol (like me), then you are probably feeling a bit left out of the whole “Craft Beer” hype. Luckily craft chocolate has been invented so that you can still enjoy a luxury product without drinking alcohol. Craft chocolate is becoming really popular due to the thought and care that goes into making it. Rather than mass produced, run of the mill chocolate like the stuff you get in supermarkets, craft chocolate is the creme de la creme of the chocolate world. Much like artisan and craft beer is something that is a hobby as well as a consumable, craft chocolate has a dedicated community built around the enthusiasm for the product.
How is craft chocolate made?
Craft chocolate starts its life in the tropical locations the cocoa beans are grown, which is usually South America. While standard chocolate is usually made form the cheapest form of dried bean possible, craft chocolate makers are incredibly picky when it comes to choosing their cocoa beans. Only quality cocoa beans are selected and used in the craft chocolate making process. Craft chocolate is all about getting the best flavour possible with the smallest number of ingredients. Rather than large factories – craft chocolate is made in small rooms and small batches so that the companies behind it can really concentrate on getting it right. Craft chocolate is a cut above normal chocolate because so much work goes into making it. Any good craft chocolate maker will source ONLY the best cocoa beans.
Where are the best cocoa beans grown?
There are many different regions that grow cocoa beans, but some are more well known for producing premium beans than others. The different tastes of craft chocolate can be produced by using different beans from different regions. It would be impossible to list all of the cocoa beans used in craft chocolate production because there are so many, but three of the ones used quite often are:
This is one of the rarer beans grown in South America, Central America, The Caribbean and Sri Lanka. One of the main reasons it is so rare is because it is quite temperamental, hard to grow,, and easily affected by the different weather elements. Only 5% of the worlds cocoa beans are Criollo and the beans produce a strong, smooth flavour.
The Forastero bean is grown in Africa, Ecuador and Brazil. This is one of the more common cocoa beans that is used for craft chocolate. Because it has a high yield it is cost effective while still producing a quality flavour, and make sup 80% of the worlds cocoa bean production.
The Trinitario bean is a natural hybrid that occurred by mistake from cross contamination. In 1727 a crop was ruined by a hurricane and it was assumed the Criollo beans were ruined. The cocoa farmers started again and planted the Forastero bean which surprisingly resulted in a hybrid being made. This is one of the best beans for craft chocolate as it has elements of both the very rare and very common bean mentioned above.