«How to start a craft chocolate business and not to screw it up?» It is the most popular question we used to hear. Let's figure it out!
It’s always worth starting with a concept. Would you like to open a small shop with mini-production?
Or maybe a cafe with your own chocolate products? Or you are thinking about a chocolate manufacturing?
The key ingredient in chocolate is cocoa beans - the seeds of a cocoa trees that grow in the tropics. On the plantations cocoa beans are fermented and dried to improve taste and aroma, after that they are packed in bags for transportation to the place of production. There, the beans are peeled, sorted and fried, and then crushed into grits, which grinds in mills to produce cocoa mass. Grated cocoa already looks like chocolate, but yet it is not, since in fact these are the same cocoa beans, only in a well-wiped form. 100% pure cocoa.
In essence, grated cocoa is a key ingredient in dark and milk chocolate. Just add sugar and you get dark chocolate. Add milk powder — the milk one.
We will analyze three types of craft chocolate production, the choice of which should be based on your goals and capabilities.
The easiest and fastest way to get craft chocolate for your business is to buy it in ready-made condition. “LUKER”, “Belcolade”, “Cacao Barry”, “Callebaut”, “Irca”, “Valrhona”, etc. - these companies products can be bought in packages in the form of calets, shaped like “bricks”. There are all types of chocolate on sale: dark, milk, white, colored white with flavors. Your goal is to melt the chocolate and recrystallize it to form the correct lattice of cocoa butter. After that, you can give to chocolate any shape and use it to create sweets or decorate confectionery.
High quality and predictable results.
You are dealing with large manufacturers who have worked out their recipes for years, so you can count on minimal, almost imperceptible fluctuations in taste from one batch of chocolate to another. This is like McDonald's: a hamburger in Paris and a hamburger in Berlin will be quite same in taste.
Quick start and low investment.
For production based on ready chocolate, you need a minimal set of equipment. For example, a container for precrystallization (a Chocolate tempering bowl), a mini-guitar for cutting the filling, a table, a refrigerator. And if you are not ready to buy special equipment, you can work with a microwave and a home gas or electric stove. To start, it is not necessary to rent a room, you can try everything on your own kitchen.
The high cost.
Ready chocolate is rather expensive as raw material, because the manufacturer puts the costs for all stages of its production and logistics expands in a price that starts at an average of 9 EUR per kilo.
Low production volume.
According to our calculations, because of the high purchase price, it is advisable to use ready-made chocolate with relatively small production volumes: 10-1000 kg per month.If you step over a ton, it's definitely time to think about producing chocolate from grated cocoa (cocoa liquor). We talk about it further.
Lack of ability to influence the recipe.
Each manufacturer’s chocolate has its own standardized flavoring shades, and they will affect the taste of your product. However, if you are a beginner - it turns into an advantage. But if you want to influence the taste and, what is important, the composition of the final product, then in this case it will be almost impossible.
Conclusions: expensive, but without troubles.
The finished chocolate business is suitable for beginners and for small production up to 1000 kg / month. Such chocolate is definitely tastier than the one you can buy at the checkout in the nearest supermarket. It is also a great option for chocolatier beginners, since it is extremely difficult to spoil the result of your efforts.
Grated cocoa is obtained by grinding cocoa beans, then recrystallized and Packed in the form of calettes, blocks, tiles or pieces. It is pure, 100% cocoa, but not yet chocolate. To prepare it, you need a melanguer - a mill that combines functions of grinding, mixing and conching. You need a melanguer to grind grated cocoa and mix it with other ingredients, for example, sugar, extra cocoa butter, emulsifier, vanilla, milk powder (if you need milk chocolate). After 24-72 hours, the chocolate is ready.
This is how melangers look like. The size depends on capacity.
Low cost of chocolate.
The cost of a kilogram of grated cocoa is usually lower or equal to the cost of a kilogram of finished chocolate, but do not forget that chocolate also contains a cheaper ingredient - sugar. The more sugar in chocolate, the cheaper it is. Just think about how much sugar is inside classic Belgian chocolate containing 54% of cocoa. So, producing chocolate by yourself from grated cocoa, is quite possible to achieve a cost of 4,5 EUR per kilogram, while not losing in taste to larger manufacturers of finished chocolate. This is a sure argument if you produce above 300 kg of chocolate per month.
The ability to influence the recipe.
Grated cocoa is a basic ingredient that does not yet have sugar, milk powder, or other additives. Just think about the freedom that opens before you: you can create a unique balance between sugar and cocoa, add various additives that improve consumers experience, for example, protein or vitamins in your product. What can we say, you even can replace sugar with erythritol, and instead of milk powder use oatmeal. Exiting, isn’t it?
You need to purchase special equipment.
Production on grated cocoa will require significantly more investments at the startin comparison with using ready-made chocolate, such as special machines, for example, melanguers, comes into play. This is always a predictable result without any particular taste revelations.
Slower production process then using finished chocolate.
You need up to 72 hours for your ingredients to be perfectly ground and mixed in the melanguer. It can take up to 3 days.
Conclusions: Low costs and freedom in using different recipes.
Making chocolate from grated cocoa is what the business needs. High margin due to low costs without loss in quality (if everything is done correctly). Furthermore, this chocolate is already can be called artisan (*craft) chocolate , due to the fact that you can work with your own recipes.
Do you like to control everything? (*You are a control freak?) You do believe that the devil is in the details? You have enough resources and money? If your answer is tripe YES, then bean-to-bar can be a story of your life. Chocolate creation process through this technology puts a control of all stages of production on your shoulders. The production of chocolate bars, figured candies, their packaging and sales begins much later than it might seems. Before you start mealing the ingredients, you firstly need to purchase cocoa beans, sort them out, sift the marriage, fry, peel and grind. And only then you can approach the mills :)
Total control of production “from A to Z”.
You have the ability to control every stage of chocolate production, which will help you to get a product with the characteristics that are ideal for you.
Bean-to-bar chocolate is a premium product comparable with single-malt whiskey or the best wine on Earth made from grapes harvested by the tender hands of young harpers on a sunny day.
Compactness and clarity of the process.
There is no need to build a factory for the production of chocolate from cocoa beans. The compactness of modern equipment and the clarity of the process allows you to turn it into exсiting show, around which a real chocolate museum can grow, an attractive place to visit in organized groups. This can be arranged even in the mall.
High production costs.
You control every stage of the technological process, and that enlarges your cost. You need to buy all equipment: an oven for roasting beans, a crusher, a separator, melanguers, tempering machines, etc. You have to hire an employees to deal with this processes.And do not forget about your rent expends.
You will need qualified staff.
You can pull the devil by the tail, but you won’t have time to do all by yourself. You will need people to service the processes. And people want a salary, lunch and standardized working day. They get sick and get late with some regularity. And they may unintentionally (or intentionally) violate the production technology, which affects the quality of the product.
The high cost of the final product.
Almost manual production results in a high price for the final product, many times higher than the cost of chocolate produced in the industrial scales.
Conclusions: long, expensive, beautiful - make money on the show!
The bean-to-bar chocolate market most likely will remain tiny in volume, compared to the mass market, offering tiles and bars worth up to 1,5 EUR at the malls checkout. However, the entertainment and compactness of the production process make it possible to build a business model designed primarily on selling a services, rather than products. For example, you can create a production behind the glass with opportunity to buy a chocolate and attract a tourist flow. Then main income will be from selling an entrance ticket, in this case buying chocolate that been made in front of the audience from cocoa bean will be a memorable addition to entertaining experience.
There are 3 main ways to get chocolate to produce your product:
1. Buy ready;
2. Make it yourself from cocoa liquor;
Do not label them as “better or worse”, because each way solves different problems and is suitable for different types of production.
Buying ready-made chocolate will cost you dearly, but you don’t need to order expensive equipment and dig into recipes, but you can start in your own kitchen. Production from grated cocoa will allow you to make delicious hand-made chocolate according to classic or your own recipes in large volumes with super-pleasant costs. Bean-to-bar will open the borders to professional experimenters and controllers, and the process of cocoa processing is worthy of looking at it for money - it's truly cool!
Yes, there are three ways, but this does not mean that you need to choose only one and do not turn during all of your way! You can combine types of production (and we recommend to do it) to solve your problems in the most efficient way.