The production process starts at the farm. The first step is fermentation during which the beans – still covered in sweet juicy pulp after they were taken out of the cacao pods – are placed in wooden boxes and covered with banana leaves. Since it is now known that fermentation plays a crucial role in the taste and aroma profiles of cocoa, the number of days the beans are left to ferment and the frequency of turning them are currently subject to great interest and development after many decades of near neglect. The fermented beans – now completely free of the pulp – are then placed in the sun to dry. Good drying is important for the beans to survive the long journey ahead of them in good condition.
When the beans reach the factory they get roasted, winnowed and crushed. The resulting pieces measuring 2-5 mm are called nibs. Grinding the nibs in melangeurs – mills with stone wheels – is the most important part of the chocolate making process. Although it is fairly simple, there are many variables such as length of time, speed of the drum, temperature, size and pressure of the stones etc. Another important factor is whether the nibs are ground with sugar and other ingredients or on its own. The resulting cocoa mass (called also chocolate liquor or paste) benefits from a few weeks of ageing. The last step in the production of chocolate is tempering during which the mass is welted, heated up to 40-45° C and quickly cooled down to below 30° C. This is what gives the chocolate longevity, shine and a sharp snap.
The beauty of craft chocolate is in the great variety. Unique cocoa put through an immensely nuanced manufacturing process transforms into a highly varied product whose cornucopia of tastes is in sharp contrast with the bland uniformity of mass produced chocolate.
Jordi‘s Chocolate has experienced rapid growth since we made our first chocolate in 2012. The gradually increasing demand for our products forced us to move out of the cramped workshop above our store in Hradec Kralove to a much larger space in the town of Trebechovice pod Orebem – about 12 km east of HK – which we equipped with new machinery increasing our production capacity severalfold. We also added a conching machine to our line for the first time to give our chocolates smoother texture.
The cocoa we work with these days comes from Madagascar, Colombia, Honduras, Vietnam, Venezuela and Nicaragua. We buy directly from the farms or farm co-operatives and all our cocoa is traceable to the people who grew it.
In 2015 we entered our chocolates into the Academy of Chocolate Awards – the oldest and most respected chocolate competition in the world. To our great delight we won two medals: silver for our Milk Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs and bronze for the Dark from the same line. The following year we won four medals: silver for Vietnam 75% and bronze for Honduras 75%, Porcelana 75% and White with Cocoa Nibs. Will the 2017 edition bring us the first gold?