Chocolate was originally produced by hundreds of European craftsmen. Some began to industrialize their production and were able to supply their chocolate to colleagues who would then only have to melt and temper the chocolate to produce their confections. These industrialized producers eventually turned into corporations and by the end of the last century, approximately 50 industrial chocolate producers claimed the entire chocolate market. The demand for small chocolate making equipment withered away and over time, manufacturers stopped producing it.
Up to this point in time, chocolate making in the U.S. had been traditionally reserved for large corporations and the chocolate that we grew up on was produced by them. Flavors and products stayed consistent and that was chocolate as we knew it. However, during the U.S. economic downturn following the housing market collapse in 2008, many found themselves unemployed or under employed and began to explore new opportunities. Baby boomers accustomed to working long hours for large corporations began opening their minds to the possibility of supporting themselves with self-ran businesses. Motivated to "do something that they enjoyed" that would be enjoyable to others while supporting their livelihood was key.
Craftsmen, sales people, and entrepreneurs from other fields began entertaining the idea of making chocolate, realizing that the chocolate monopoly and flavor monotony that we were accustomed to, did not have to be. Following the example and business model of a recent U.S. chocolate maker who in late 1999 formed a cooperative with farmers in Central and South America to source his cacao, others set out to obtain the raw material needed and learn the process and art of making chocolate from the bean. Small batch chocolate makers had very limited equipment options and had to "rig" together equipment that would suffice to roast, crack, winnow, grind and conche their dried and fermented cacao beans to turn them into chocolate.
In 2011, F.B.M., a leading Italian manufacture of automatic continuous tempering machines, was challenged to design and manufacture artisanal equipment for producing chocolate from the bean. They produced a combination cracker / winnower, a pre-grinder, a grinder called the RUMBO, a fast conching machine named KLEEGO, and upgraded their automatic continuous tempering machine to better handle craft chocolate which is often much thicker and more dense than traditional chocolate with added cocoa butter purchased by Chocolatiers for producing confections. Then, to complete their bean to bar line, F.B.M. designed the CLIMA, a vertical cooling tunnel for polycarbonate moulds with 2 versions that accommodate either 50 or 100 moulds at a time. More recently, F.B.M. has added another smaller version of the RUMBO melangeur called the RUMBO KID. The melangeur has many advantages over other melangeurs, incorporating solid granite grinding wheels and a solid granite base contained inside a fixed stainless steel body whereby a direct drive motor system moves the dual floating axle's. Plus, the RUMBO melangeurs incorporate forced heat that can be used as desired and will increase the speed of processing time. All of this bean to bar chocolate making equipment is distributed in the Americas by TCF Sales, located in the greater Austin, TX area.
Since the early 2000's, a number of organizations have formed to assist craft chocolate makers, including the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, also known as FCIA. To help clarify the difference between small batch chocolate makers and industrial chocolate makers, they use the term "chocolate maker" to refer to those who produce small to medium sized batches of chocolate from fermented and dried cocoa beans, and "chocolate manufacturer" to refer to large companies who produce a broad range of mass marketed chocolate from dried cocoa beans.
TCF Sales can be contacted at 512-201-4443 or toll free at 877-777-6982, or by visiting www.tcfsales.com.