Ask the Alchemist #137


Chocolate Alchemist, why did you decide to write a chocolate blog?

Huh? That’s in English, but I just don’t understand it. Huh? What chocolate blog? I’ve never written a chocolate blog. What are you talking about? Oh, and who is the Chocolate Alchemist?

Confused yet?

Ok, I confess. That response was exaggerated. But it is also serious. That middle part was and continues to be true. I’ve never written a chocolate blog.

I run a business called Chocolate Alchemy. And it happens to use Wordpress as its landing page. And granted, most people use Wordpress as a blog. But I’m not most people and it’s not why I used it. I picked it and use it because it does the job I need. It tells you (my customers) what is new and by its nature, it shows the newest information first. Handy that.

Maybe it is just a mindset, but I REALLY do not and have never considered this thing you are reading a blog. Frankly it makes my eye twitch. It isn’t that I have anything against blogs. Here is a definition:

“A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be. For our purposes we’ll say that a blog is your own website that you are going to update on an ongoing basis.”

I can hear it now. That sounds like what you are reading. Except for one critical difference. This isn’t personal. This is business. It’s never been personal. It has always, 100%, been business. Maybe, just maybe, I just barely might be convinced that part of Chocolate Alchemy has some a blog like similarities. But that is it. This isn’t a diary. Or a journal. And really I’m not trying to ‘express’ myself. It’s just a place to give you information, and it just happens file it away for me in chronological order.

The next part of me being obtuse. Chocolate Alchemist? Did you know I have never once referred to myself with that title? Other people seem to do it all the time. When pressed I have referred to myself as Alchemist John. Or sometimes just Alchemist. Or even AlChemist as I used to be a chemist. “Chocolate Alchemist” feels so pompous. Regardless, it's not how I think of myself. That said, you were asking a serious question and I’m not that dense.

“John, why did you decide to start Chocolate Alchemy?” Well, you could make use of the wordpress feature and go back to the first items I wrote and it pretty well explains it. It is right here. But the short of it is this.

Back in 2002 I tasted fresh hot chocolate from Mexico. I got excited about it and wanted to try making it. And that led to the idea of making my own chocolate. I already roasted my own coffee so I didn’t think it that crazy or outrageous. It turns out that at the time there were absolutely no cocoa beans sold on-line. NONE. Trust me, I looked hard.

At that point you can say I kind of became obsessed with the challenge. Eventually I was able to talk a broker into selling me 1 bag of Ghana. At that point I started back engineering how to make chocolate at home. In short order, the idea blossomed and then crystalized that what I had here was the opportunity to start something that was not around. A chocolate version of the green coffee bean sellers like Sweet Marias. Basically I wanted to BE the Cocoa Sweet Maira’s.

Over that span of about a year I worked out roasting, cracking, winnowing and making liquor. Oven, modified brewing grain mill, bowl and hair drier and the Champion Juicer. Those were all ‘discovered’ here. As was using India Wet grinders for Melangers about a year later. If you trace any one of those home chocolate making techniques back they lead here and the work I did back 2002-2003. Anyway, as soon as I was convinced I had a viable method to share I created the business Chocolate Alchemy, and powered the website with Wordpress. Circle closed.

Just a small aside. I hear time and again how lucky I was that my hobby turned into a business. I’ll grant I was a little fortunate, but luck had little to do with it. Showing people how to make chocolate at home and creating the tools and information that virtually every small bean to bar maker uses was not luck. It is called a Plan.

I knew what I wanted from day one as soon as I created Chocolate Alchemy. I wanted to kick start a bean to bar movement. Back in 2002 that was my goal. No one else new it, but I did. And look around. I’d say my plan came together. I am exactly where I wanted and planned to be. I am selling the largest variety of cocoa beans anywhere in one place, supply equipment large and small to home and artisan chocolate makers and doing my damnedest to make it all an open book. No secrets. Lots of sharing and support. Tons of paying it forward. There is a huge bean to bar movement and I am humbled and gratified to see my fingerprints all over it….even if some people don’t realize whose prints they are.

Chocolate Alchemy isn’t just some random online resource that put together pieces of chocolate making ‘how to’ that was already out there. Chocolate Alchemy is THE original source. All those other sources lead back here. You can read all about in in my wordpress powered website.

I love it when a plan comes together.

John Nanci

Alchemist John

Founding Alchemist for

Chocolate Alchemy

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