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The Differences: Tree to Bar, Bean to Bar and Farm to Bar

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

What is the difference between Tree to Bar, Bean to Bar and Farm to Bar Chocolate?

It can be hard to admit to ourselves that we actually don’t know a lot about chocolate. It is hard because we have been eating our whole lives. In fact, we know so little, you could say as a species, we are still figuring out exactly what it is about chocolate folks love so much. That, however is not what this article is about. If you want to read more about the pharmacological reason we may love chocolate, read this article. Take it slow. Chocolate melts quickly but this will be explained very slowly. Tree to Bar Chocolate Discovering tree to bar chocolate, firstly, means discovering the jungle -- the farms are all equatorial. Tree to bar chocolate is made by companies who have access but not ownership of the fruit in a chocolate orchard. It is common for farmers to sell their goods as it is a known function of the profession. So if your favorite chocolatiers are picking and fermenting their own cacao. You will see them call it “Tree to bar”. This type of chocolate not made by the farmer’s themselves or on the farms, will be made in a facility located somewhere else.

Pictures of Cacao fruiting in Hawai'i.
Historically cacao grows on tree trunks.

Don’t get confused! The makers just described above, do not buy already fermented beans. Nor do they buy already dried and aged or (off-gassed) beans. The will pay for the pods or the wet beans or maybe even work exchange or barter for access to bulk pods.

Lets flip that.

Bean to Bar Chocolate Craft chocolate makers who do buy already fermented, dried and aged beans are whats known as, “Bean to bar” Chocolate makers.

This is the most common type of non industrial, and non reconstituted chocolate. It is also the most common type of ethical chocolate. You will learn even more from this short video.

As consumers get more discerning and more ethical and just more in number, bean to bar chocolate will be the first type of chocolate to be embraced, as tree to bar and farm to bar chocolate is way less common.

Farm to Bar Chocolate.

Farm to bar, makes the farmers into chefs and chocolatiers. It can be a stretch. Some companies however, do it all including bean to bar and tree to bar. Chocolate companies can offer different origins, and of course, different types of production. We don’t want reconstituted industrialized chocolate because it has been 100% relying on child slavery for over 200 years. Again, this is a subject for another article. It is linked here. Oh and also the new revolutionary types of chocolate in this article taste better too. They are made better. They are more holistic. Notably, they have been transported, diluted and shelved for an extremely short period of time comparatively.

These three types of products form the new industry called, “Craft Chocolate”. Its definitions and markets and products are new and require education, distinction and decades of more outreach before the industry grows beyond $100 Million Dollars annually. Try to look for and find all three types of chocolate before becoming loyal to one style or brand.

Explore your tastes.

Hotel Chocolat in England grows cacao and makes it tree to bar.
Explore Bean-to-bar Chocolate

They can all taste different so what you like is important. Tell us in the comments below! When we talk about the taste difference between the 3, we are talking about microbes, wild yeasts and micrometers. The first 2 of the factors are neutralized by “Big Chocolate”, simply by burning the beans. It is a known practice and it is the only reason this author can find, why people think chocolate is bitter at all. Chocolate does not want to be mysterious so hopefully this article has shed some light on the differences between Farm to Bar, Tree to Bar and Bean to Bar chocolate.

Try our bean to bar chocolate made from Hawai'i Cacao grown just down the road from our kitchen.