Bean To Bar Chocolate Movement
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 tempering machines was challenged to design and manufacture artisanal equipment for producing chocolate from the bean. They started by providing a motor upgrade to several of their key automatic continuous tempering machines to better handle craft chocolate which is often much thicker and ore dense than traditional chocolate with added cocoa butter. They produced a combination cracker / winnower that was later redesigned and named the NINJA Bean Winnower, a pre-grinder called the GRINDGO, several stone mill grinders or melangeurs called the RUMBO and RUMBO KID, a ball mill grinder called TAOBROMA, and a fast conching machine named the KLEEGO to remove unwanted acids and develop the profile of the chocolate. Several years later, F.B.M. added the first ever vertical cooling tunnel for polycarbonate moulds and currently have three sizes, the MICRO CLIMA, CLIMA 50 and CLIMA 100.
Since the early 2000's, a number of organizations have formed to assist confectioner professionals and craft chocolate makers, including the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, 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.
The industry continues to evolve and we look forward to seeing how the bean to bar movement continues to grow and expand in the U.S. and North America.