Anyway, that is what started me on this quest. I figured if this could be made by hand in Mexico, I could do the same. So I started looking for cocoa beans, and learning A LOT along the way. First off, I found there are not cocoa beans available (well I will sell them now, but more of that later). Second, I hit numerous “brick” walls in the industry.
The basic message was you can not make chocolate at home. It takes sophisticated, expensive equipment and is just too difficult for the average person. Well, I have heard this before in two industries. The first was beer making. I recall wanting to make and sell small batches of good ale about (wow) 20 years ago. I was hit squarely with “are you crazy, no one would want to buy your homebrew”. Five or so years later, these microbreweries starting popping up — and what do you know, people liked this “homebrew”. Ah well, one missed opportunity. When I got into coffee roasting in 2001, I did some research and found that the big professional roasters said “what”!, you can’t roast coffee at home, it is too technical, and expensive, and there are no green beans and…? and now I roast at home every couple of days, have built two of my own roasters and the industry is about to come out with another roaster targeted right at the desires of the home roasting community (although they have again missed the mark again, IMO). So “they” say you can’t make chocolate at home, well I say just watch me!
Well, I was finally able to track down and purchase some cocoa nibs. They are the roasted, cracked and winnowed cocoa beans.
They were pretty pricey at around $15/pound, but it let me start experimenting. All the while, I was searching out sources of raw cocoa beans. Through various leads and leads of leads, I was able to purchase a single 135 lb bag of cocoa beans from Ghana. The gentleman who I was able to get them for me was joked with as having made the smallest purchase on record. Most sales are at a minimum 2000 lb, and more often 40,000 lb. Well, finding these took me nearly a year, but now I have a source of general-grade Forestaro beans. For those who want to join me on this quest, I will happily sell you some. Next I want to get some of the Criollo “flavor” beans that are the cream of the cocoa crop, but these work for my needs at the time being.
Filed under: Alchemist's Musings