Updated: Aug 15
You read that right. Corporations and large chocolate manufactures need to stop, profiting off appearing in marketing as craft chocolate makers. They can profit off being authentic themselves, industrial chocolate. Using ,"craft chocolate", as a term to describe chocolate made on industrial level is simply false advertising. We will go over many definitions in this article to make it clear, which cases deserve the distinction of precise categorical correctness. In some cases, a brand may not have enough impact on either industry of craft or industrial chocolate to be relevant enough to sort.
As with all comparisons, other factors are relevant. Like, being wrong or miscalculating the use of terms appropriate to industrial manufacture. So as we look at chocolate industries, keep in mind, some businesses are both. Some ARE both craft and industrial at the same time. Nothing is all good or all bad anyway. Wait, is industrial chocolate bad? Thats this author's personal bias, as a maker of delicious craft chocolate (try it here) sneaking in my own brand...However, if you actually want to support small independent craft chocolate-makers, its bad. It's a marketing taboo, faux pas and in many ways a deja vu and the way that every small industry is eventually industrialized. Also, bloggers, I just learned that every month you don't publish, google gives you a negative rating. That's bad too! So post often! If you just learned this or anything else feel free to contact Island Sharks for back link building or guest posting rather. That's just one step on our journey toward a truly, real and authentic hand-made and wrapped craft chocolate. There are many other factors left out actually in this comparison that include website building and more personal bias, being an authority on all things craft chocolate. Enough about this author. Back to the chocolate!
In craft chocolate production we can classify all the production / processing equipment, distribution size, status as a subsidiary, number of staff and sourcing control. So, the same factors should be measured for industrial chocolate too. Note that industrial chocolate will have dozens of (rheological)l factors that are NOT a concern when making hand-crafted chocolate...i.e., maths.
There are lots of types of industrial chocolate. Very few of them make any or are made bean-to-bar. Click to learn more on Bean-to-Bar Chocolate and the difference between it and Farm-to-Bar and Tree-to-Bar Chocolate.
If you want to learn all about how industrial chocolate is made, I did write about that here.
But you probably won't learn about how craft chocolate is made anywhere closer than this article -- that is, how to correctly make it.
Making Craft Chocolate
Roasting approximately < 300 lbs / per day of cacao. Sometimes, and a lot in the past, craft chocolate makers would even roast just 1.5 lbs an hour...No more -- attention to detail, is what it takes to manually drill into and hack into a Beh-Mor Coffee Roaster, the distinctly craft chocolate way of production. Producing the Maillard Reaction in chocolate, where yummy flavors develop, adjusting the heat up and down is necessary in lesser roasting machines. The reaction will have powerful effects on flavor and aroma, including burning the beans and leaving some flavors and aromas undeveloped. Mostly, its just amino acids and reducing sugars. It's quick to develop a roasting profile on these machines or even by using a pop-corn maker when in a rush (Thanks Sarah B.). Makers use the heating and cooling settings of non-user friendly D.I.Y. coffee roasters in a more precise manner and on smaller batches than industrial size roasters --- we will talk about roasters with >500 lb / per day capacity or more. Overall in larger roasters, the variations of temperature, of each bean, will be broader, creating more inconsistency over all. Did you know that the largest cocoa roasters need to burn their beans to make a consistent flavor? Its a trade secret (LOL) to produce consistent flavors over larger roasts and a variety of origins and fermentations. It's (ALL CACAO) typically the common, CNN-51 "Don Hemano", variety from South America, or a forestero cacao strain from West Africa called "Amelonado. Indonesia is the second largest producer of cacao in the world (and is known for its bad taste). It's a variety of trinitario that either comes from small estates called, "Kakao Tuan". Or its cacao from a giant plantation called "Kakao Rakyat. Knowing the names of exotic cacao farms in foreign locations and seperate languages is actually a factor a both craft and industrial chocolate. Focusing on making craft chocolate you will be roasting small batches of beans, without burning them. Highlighting the nuances of each batch is the true identity of craft chocolate. Homogenization of flavor, so typical with making industrial chocolate, is much less of an issue in this world. D.I.Y. makers will use anything (type of machine) they want to roast beans, including campfires, to showcase the unique identities of cacao's myriad of documented and undocumented flavors and aromas. In fact, its important for craft chocolate makers to stay away from CCN-51 100% percent of the time.
I hate to report this, but processing >300 lbs of beans per day, produces too much waste. Husk or hull waste, used by bigger industy as fertilizer. In the universe of craft chocolate, its a by-product that adds-value to a small farm or maker. On small scale, the by-product quantity is small enough to manage an edible product out of the cacao husk. And, winnowing from larger farms, means that the shells are not safe to consume, also they are burnt. E. Coli, Salmonella and more, have been found commonly on cacao bean fermentations of larger sizes -- the husk has dangerous germs, usually from farm animals so the beans get burnt. Every small farm working with cocoa, who wants to repurpose the husk and sell it as a beverage, is actually able to control every pathogen vector. Its done through careful proper post-harvesting processes that we won't go into detail about here but rest assured there cannot be farm animals around the cocoa.
Distinction of Industrial Chocolate Confused with the processing terms; refining, pre-refining, grinding, pre-grinding, milling, melanging, conching? Its generally referred to as the rheology of chocolate. In larger producing facilities with parent companies like Ritter Sport, chocolate-making is not referred to as bean-to-bar for reasons specified lower in the article. Why pretend to be something your not? Well, we all think craft chocolate is a growing market worth over $100 million yearly. Will we see a farm-to-bar Hershey's Bar? What about if Zotter Chocolate, for example, showed up on your feed, claiming that they make craft chocolate? Name some other Industrial company trying to wash their image in your brain, put it in the comments. Its not restricted to chocolate.
Corporations that make up, "Big Chocolate", are leaning heavily into bean-to-bar chocolate because it has a cleaner, slave-free and more delicious reputation. They want our money more than any small business too. But, our actual clean, slave-free and delicious craft chocolate businesses deserve it depsite their lack of raging greed. They also deserve distinct recognition for their processing and sourcing. Craft chocolate deserves more customers no matter how its made. They just can't advertise or produce like larger industrial chocolate manufacturing corporations. They can't reach as many people yet.
Craft chocolate cannot replace the annual $1 billion dollars in profits that, "Big Chocolate", scams the world out of. Craft chocolate recalls images in the mind of small, innocent, and family owned shops. "Big Chocolate", wants to buy that reputation. And by packaging and marketing itself to look and sound like boutique, neighborhood, independent businesses, it begins to fool even this author. We have all been burned by misleading packaging like Mānoa Chocolate. They even say, "most chocolate is ORGANIC and most is NON-GMO" in alternating font sizes. Its meant to fool people. Their chocolate cannot legally becalled organic or non-gmo. Is that what we want for chocolate? I think we all want the best, for independent cocoa farmers and craft chocolate makers. That is to watch them succeed by being authentic and true to their identities as craft chocolate makers or authentic as an industrial chocolate company.
Both craft and industrial chocolate companies sort their beans before winnowing and/or after winnowing. Though this is a universal process in any chocolate-making, the machines and their capacities vary. To stay consistent, it will take a proportional >300 lbs of daily output to truly industrialize your craft. You will understand better when you conceptualize everything below.
Refining, pre-refining, simple refining, double refining, grinding, pre-grinding, milling, melanging, conching all belong to the science of viscosity, called rheology. Its necessary to understand the rate and pressure at which chocolate can move through stainless steel piping, pumps, siphons and automated depositors and much more. This is because chocolate (and its particle sizes) stays homogenized after the lipids coat the cocoa mass and sugar particles. Studying this science of "flow", as the Greeks put it, allows for a classification system for fluids and how they respond to sheer, stress and how fast that response happens. Typically, "cone-plate geometry" is required to measure the chocolates viscosity through the make-line. Its easy to grasp if you just measure the size of the particle of cocoa at different temperatures. You can get a rheometer or viscometer to measure all that for you. Then, your industrial chocolate-making can calculate how fast each particle was moving at each temperature. Its kind of like the speed traps used on highways to measure the flow of traffic. Normal commercial kitchen setups have all you need to dance around with the chocolate. Studying flow typically indicates an overqualified craft chocolate-maker or an industrial engineer, physicist or manufacturer. You see, sometimes the chocolate does not move through the piping correctly and it can go too fast or too slow. It can even temper, and clog.
Needless to say, most craft chocolate makers don't use jacketed piping for small-batches of chocolate. Moving chocolate from machine to machine in a craft chocolate kitchen literally means carrying it by hand. Craft chocolate makers move, with the chocolate. As a complete afterthought, jacketed piping, has a layer of water cooled piping to maintain the temperature of the chocolate as it flows through the inner pipe, just so you curious industrial chocolate enthusiasts know. What happens in craft chocolate rheology when there are no pipes or pumps? Well there are still a lot of issues w/ viscosity and thousand reason to change and fix them in the craft chocolate world. No need to mention that rheology is unmistakably an industrial science used to fix problems in piping thousands of pounds of chocolate a month. Shipping it, is not craft chocolate either. If your, "craft chocolate", has to travel on the highway in a tanker truck to get to its next processing point then maybe your chocolate is NOT actual craft chocolate. Maybe you are "Big" industry. Rheological methods can reveal a company's true identity. Some craft chocolate is the big chocolate industry as usual, and underneath its just 2 kids standing on each other shoulders, hiding in a trench coat jacket...With that ornately mentioned metaphorical disguise, lets understand craft chocolate has its own limits and would never succeed at supporting as many farmers as the industrial chocolate industry. Sometimes industrial companies play make believe and market the image that they are a small mom-and-pop chocolate shop. Misinformed consumers would tend to buy, something they think is craft chocolate because of its superior reputation. Whereas a trend of informed consumers may skirt the flow of advertisements full of misrepresentation. Rheology is not as useful when their are no depositors or augers. There are LOTS of craft chocolate makers that struggle with rheology because sometimes, different beans have different viscosities on different machines at different particle sizes and temperatures. it refers to all the steps in the process as one. Did that clear it up? No? Lets get into the details of what you need to know about chocolate rheology right here.
ball mill = industrial
auger = craft
continuous tempering / depositor = craft
automated make-line = industrial
melanger (stone-mill) = craft
grinder = craft (some industrial)
kettle = craft
wheels (crane), = both
stone ground = both
melter = both
winnower > 300 lbs a day = industrial
grindometer = both
vibration table = both
roaster = both
oven = craft
holding tank = both
pump refiner = industrial
three roll = both
cooled 5-roll mill = both
cracker = craft
distribution = both
employee size = industrial
production capacity >20k bars a month = industrial
master rheologist / engineer = industrial
conche = both
There are two theories on this and so opining will be welcomed in the comments. Thanks in advance if you mulligan and just go shop our store now. I know this is a lot of info and you will need a shopping break, here. If thats the case, come back and finish reading this while munching on one of our rheologically engineered craft chocolate bars. This article will actually make more sense if you are familiar with discussing craft chocolate intricacies or a dangerously alluring Island Sharks bar. Please note this author and the ease of reading this, will, "get better with age." Have you ever wondered why that was? Things "marry" as they mix over certain amounts of time. In our situation, chocolate-makers marry flavor and aroma of a melange of cocoa beans. Salsa, is best the 2nd day, for example. Hand-crafted, bean-to-bar chocolate takes about 28 days. Aging the chocolate itself can go as long as 2 months (or up to 5 years), until the flavor has matured to its final evolution. Other opinionated craft chocolate-makers / authors published that 2 - year and 5 - year aging of cacao beans and chocolate is better to be practiced. The flavors and aromas in older cacao and chocolates can vary in quality. The aging process itself has to be performed correctly and food-industry standards of food preservation works for cacao and chocolate. No one, ages nibs. They tend to spoil. Mostly only (99% of), craft chocolate companies bother to improve their chocolate by employing time. So, on one hand, there is a time based practice in pursuit of flavor expression. It is very relaxed in chocolate. And craft chocolate. Sure, cacao beans can last only 3 - 5 years, depending on who you ask. The goal of aging either beans or liqour/paste, is to improve the flavor and aroma. As that is very subjective, we must look to consistency over thousands of batches as our goal post. It can be just any flavor. Makers prefer to produce consistent flavors in the beans. The bars are a different story. Oddly, in industrial chocolate, manufacturers have to express flavor based on the ability to produce a flavor or aroma consistency. Not the best flavors (or aromas). Just the most reproducible. Precept craft chocolate, you will find small tabletop melangers, with local grown ingredients and one-of-a-kind personalities at the hest of nano-batch production, producing bars of a different story. Craft chocolate makers craft the story of the beans, in the bar, through unique and unusual and unreproducible flavor expression.
The other school of thought, and this will be brief, does not age chocolate at all. This is due to processing methods. Slowly made, craft chocolate tends to age well but manufacturers working specifically with ball mills, have much faster production times. Without getting to long winded, faster production times result in shorter shelf life IMO. All though I've been told the opposite is true, that ball mills produce chocolate with longer shelf life, but that was from a ball mill manufacturer. Do faster production times result in less shelf life? You may have to answer that the hard way, through some taste testing. What about taste testing chocolate made from the same origin with different rheological factors? Only the most discerning consumer is capable of this...What about changes in flavor? Exactly great question. Changes in flavor or flavor evolution on your palate is exactly why taste tests are done at all. It might be done in the consumer marketplace, but basically this part of the customer experience, ultimately is what will retain customers and make them repurchase from a brand. Dialing in the rheology of your chocolate brand is exactly what qualifies and what makes your brand stand-out. Think of it as the signature of the thoughtful chocolate-maker.
This is a stage where the production varies greatly. There are five different ways to temper chocolate and you can find them all over the Internet so we won't go into detail here. Please note that you can use any of the 5 methods of bean-to-bar craft chocolate with any tempering method. On any size batch of chocolate, the volume can help determine the tempering method that will create the best snap. Sometimes it might be easier to use the seeding method, or do bowl tempering, giving a certain batch size. But marble table top temporary is for chocolatiers working w/ less than 3 pounds of chocolate. Thats not a lot, but keep in mind which chocolate-maker the chocolatier is sourcing from . Some methods are more fun, than others and some work better given what other ingredients are inside the chocolate, but normally you cannot use most any method for any size batch of chocolate either. What does vary, because of batch size, and technology is the moulding.
Here are a bunch of rheolgical pathways to chocolate:
Now when determining batch size and moulding methods, about all makers consider the following features of known rheological methods. Otherwise, you will end up with unintentional volume and of course a handful of foreseeable crystallization issues. How could consumers ever even have a product that approaches consistency? These images are from a recent study on 6 methods.
The next image will show the conclusion of their data.
It goes on say that, "...the mentioned samples - 3 and 5 the mentioned samples – Systems 3 and 5 (Ball mill/BLC and Stone Mill) – also presented the highest values found. While System 6 (5-roll refiner / Homogenizing conche) was the most homogeneous. Sensory evaluation showed no significant differences for the refining systems as to the aroma, hardness, melting, and color attributes. In general, the worst results for overall impression and flavor attribute were observed for samples produced by Systems 4 and 5 (Refining conche and Stone mill). Moreover, System 4 (Refining conche) presented the worst results for the grittiness and acidity attributes.
Thats from the Journal of Food Research in 2022. It also says, "Overall, Systems 1, 2, and 6 – which combine refining systems with homogenizing conche – proved favorable
for obtaining chocolates with greater fluidity and better results in sensory evaluation."
Which methods are craft and which methods are industrial? Here is the key:
Method 1: Craft
Method 2: Industrial
Method 3: Industrial
Method 4: Craft
Method 5: Craft
Method 6: Craft
Other D.I.Y methods are craft chocolate and other pre-fabricated fully automated making lines (not included in our study) are industrial. Think of it on a spectrum.
Do you know what kind of chocolate you like? Dark or Milk, or White? Maybe you like plant-based chocolate that you have had once? How many here have ever had a 100% cocoa bar before? What is your level of experience, exposure and environment to chocolate? Industrial is all based on how easily the chocolate can be pumped through the pipes and have a homogenized flavor. In craft chocolate makeries base their product on the rheological methods they enjoy the most and provide them with award-winning chocolate. Do any consumers determine the sheer of paltriness and their size dispersion when consuming? I'd say it depends on what their consuming. Educated consumers all end up with the most informed decision for their palates. So yes, some keen tasters and professional chocolate sommeliers will be able to accurately speak on all the sensations and their affectations. Get educated! Attend Chocolate Sommelier School, and explore your personal chocolate history. It is required as part of the curriculum...Learn everything about cacao bean analysis, chocolate-tasting and get certified! The Chocolate-making course will be free for students when it drops in the fall '23. It will make an ahhhhmazing gift. You won't learn how to properly sheer and squeeze chocolate through pipes properly however without an engineering or physics degree because when we study craft chocolate-making we will go in depth as this article. The author, as an instructor, will be collaborating certification process as well. Hopefully some readers are already sommeliers in training? How do I taste chocolate? Where does chocolate come from? Or, what is the best chocolate in the world? Why does chocolate taste like different flavors? There are many questions of a chocolate lover and potential students. Let them flow and check out this instagram full of HOT chocolate wisdom. There are chocolate sommeliers of all levels reading this (who know the answers to those questions and more) and who want to, or are making all different amounts of craft and industrial chocolate. Therefore as an author, chocolate-maker and instructor, I can be of equal benefit and of use to students of all kinds and levels. Think about those answers from the top of the paragraph, and imagine letting a chocolate sommelier instructor know if you do have questions -- when visiting the school online. The Chocolate Sommelier School is a brand new resource, working with Island Sharks, to deliver the most information on sensory analysis methods, palate expanding techniques and learning tools than, any other craft chocolate brand. Get your hands dirty and grab The Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Tasting Guide by Island Sharks. Your text book for Chocolate Sommelier Certification and let us know in the comment when you get certified as a professional Chocolate Sommelier!
This is the easiest way to determine if your chocolate is from industry and really just disguising itself as bean-to-bar chocolate. Bean-to-bar chocolate, which has been around for only 40 years in its modern form has a contentious and pretentious group of know-it-all, narrow-minded and erudite boomers overflowing with ordinary human flaws and acting as if the world itself would vanish without all the credit going to the booze and gunpowder smoke-soaked patriarchy. In typical industrial fashion. Larger companies have tried to take over smaller companies. It happens everyday. Literally. Its common. But hand-wrapping remains a rare feature of an old pre-industrial system that was built to last. Hand-wrapping craft chocolate over shadows industrial chocolate in every way, even though its old-fashioned.
Besides for the different ethics, all chocolate-making is done by reducing the size of the cocoa particle under stress, into a solution of cocoa butter. Craft chocolate and Industrial styles do have a lot in common.
help support farmers
use equal safety and health department standards
ship internationally and all year
sensory testing every batch is not really practicable
impossible to do the whole process profitably
are neither "Big Chocolate" although "Big Chocolate" is industrialized
help create jobs
have same origins
have same ingredients
same marketing buzz words
work with distributors and retailers
can purchase by the palatte
These are not strict rules, although, maybe they should be? Is the formalization of craft chocolate terminology necessary to protect this industry from becoming what "craft beer" has become?
What is REAL Craft Chocolate?
Chocolate is having an identity crisis and there is absolute neutrality about either craft chocolate or industrial chocolate being the right way. No judgement! Be yourself industrial chocolate! Unless you think there is something wrong with who you are? I could name at least one Hawaii "craft chocolate maker", that is extremely industrial and misleading its consumers. Real craft chocolate will become more important as industrial chocolate moves in to assimilate its unique identity.
The purpose of this article is simply to show how calling your own processes craft when they are industrial hurts actual crafts chocolate makers. It hurts the TikTok chocolate makers and the craft chocolate bloggers. Its down right painful to craft chocolate Instagram too to have its identity taken...And used against it, crushing the true spirit of innovation and independent small batch production. Craft Chocolate definitions you won't hear in industrial chocolate: Micro, Nano and Small-Batch
Kitchen / Studio / Warehouse Hand made / Cafted / Wrapped
Some Industrial Terminology you Won't Hear in Craft Chocolate Kitchens
Automation, Automated Rheological terms
Tons / 1000 kg
Automated Depositor Line
Processing Plant (s)
Once you get to a certain distribution size, a business in any industry will have to industrialize to accomodate larger audience. Its understood. It may be difficult to extrapolate that from the article, but life makes it easy to see once you've started training to become a chocolate professional. Hopefully however your chocolate is made and whatever the style or the size of the company, this article maybe all you need to actually know what you are eating. If you can't pick a favorite yet, given this depth of qualifications, enroll now now in Chocolate Sommelier School.