Sana makes the chocolate according to unique bean-to bar technology, here we want to explain what makes bean-to bar chocolate unique.

Most of the chocolate you find in grocery stores come from large factories where chocolate bars are mass-produced. But in recent years another kind of chocolate has started to emerge, made by small producers who value the artisan craftsmanship of chocolate making. This kind of chocolate is also known as bean-to-bar chocolate.

But what really is bean-to-bar chocolate and how does it differ from industrial chocolate? 

Bean-to-bar chocolate: The definition

Bean-to-bar chocolate refers to chocolate that’s been produced on a small-scale and where the quality and sustainability of the cacao beans is prioritized. 

Many bean-to-bar chocolate makers are involved in almost every step of the process, from sourcing the cocoa beans to manufacturing the final product. This allows them to have complete control over the quality of their chocolate and create unique fine flavors that you won’t find in many chocolate bars.

The history of  chocolate

Although the history of chocolate goes back thousands of years, craft chocolate didn’t start until the early 1990s. In 1993 when the founder of Domori Chocolate, Gianluca Franzoni travelled to Venezuela to research the rare Criollo bean.

He eventually founded the Ciollo Project in 1997 in an attempt to preserve and prevent the extinction of Criollo cacao varieties. According to Domori, the amount of Criollo cacao available on the market in the early 2000s was just 0.001% of global product. Today, it’s around 0.01%.

Thanks to the Criollo Project, several chocolate makers in Europe and the US started to produce chocolate using these rediscovered cacao varieties. For example, Scharffen Berger chocolate from California, USA, who was founded in 1996, was experimenting with batches of chocolate from up to 30 different varieties of cacao.

Unlike the mass-market chocolate production at the time, Scharffen Berger focused on small-batch, high-quality chocolate. Their focus was extracting the various flavour profiles of different cacao beans, sourced from specific growers.

By the early 2000s more and more craft chocolate makers started to pop-up. Eventually the International Chocolate Awards were founded in 2012, which is an independent group of panellists from around the world that evaluate chocolate bars based on their fine flavours.

Today, the bean-to-bar chocolate market is stronger than ever with thousands of small chocolate producers popping up all over the world from Hawaii to Thailand. The expansion of this kind of chocolate is largely thanks to a shift back towards small-scale production as people have become more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s made.

Why should I choose bean-to-bar chocolate?

There are several reasons why you might want to choose bean-to-bar chocolate over mass-market chocolate. From ethically sourced beans to great taste, here are some of the reasons:

It’s better for the farmer.

Inequalities within the cocoa industry are well known. Whilst the chocolate industry is valued at over $89 billion, the harsh reality is that the average cocoa farmer in West Africa currently earns less than $0.80 a day. Many bean-to-bar chocolate makers source their beans directly from the farmer or from sustainable cooperatives that ensure farmers are paid fairly whilst taking care of the environment.

It’s better for the environment.

Bulk cacao for mass-market chocolate is often grown in monoculture plantations, which has been linked to the ever growing issue of deforestation. Cacao farmers and cooperatives of fine cacao are busy working to conserve the last remaining biodiversity hotspots and protect ancient cacao varieties.

It’s better for you.

Studies have found that cacao is packed with antioxidants and flavanols. Antioxidants and flavanols can be beneficial to cardiovascular health, provide anti-inflammatory properties, and help regulate blood sugar levels. However, not all chocolate contains the same amount of antioxidants.

Many mass-produced chocolates use beans that are alkalised. Alkalisation of cacao is a process of adding alkaline substances to cacao beans to neutralise their acidity. Unfortunately, this process has been shown to strip the beans of their vital antioxidants and flavanols by up to 80%. As a result, mass-produced chocolate generally has lower levels of antioxidants and flavanols than craft chocolate.

Bean-to-bar chocolate is a delicious and ethical alternative to mass-produced chocolate.