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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2015-03-14 11:56:29
Subject: Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar

Well I was trying to make a graphic representation, to scale, of a cocoa bean and a cocoa "particle" that would be found in a chocolate bar. Turns out, to make a drawing to scale requires an image of a  few gigabytes, which takes minutes to load on a modern computer. Then it would take just is long to zoom in to the particle, or zoom back out to the bean. I abandoned that.

Instead I'll give an "imagine if you will", a cocoa bean as long as a football field, a standard unit in the USA. To get that bean into a chocolate bar, you have to break it into pieces shorter than than your thumb.

That is the process. You take a roasted bean, break it into nibs, add sugar and grind the whole mass down to 15 micron particle size. Beans are roughly 30mm long and 15mm diameter. You break the bean into roughly 10-20 pieces, called nibs, then grind the putty out of them. In the football field sized bean above, a nib would be the size of a house. Nibs break into all different sizes. You would need to chop a house into thumb sized pieces to appreciate it all, but don't let let the cops catch you. The final chocolate bar "particle" needs to be about 15 microns. A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter. For you North Americanos, there are 25.4 millimeters in an inch. Line up 1700 chocolate particles in a row, you have an inch. After a day of mechanical grinding nibs, you have a chocolate you can make bars with. After a year of hand grinding with mortar and pestle, you have a gritty goo.

There are a few other steps, but that is the essentially the process. It is how a crunchy, bitter bean becomes a smooth, satisfying confection that is in a class by itself.

OK, I'm getting a little excited about taking this endeavor to the next level, in case you couldn't tell. Last night Eli and I made some caramel, a batch with peanuts, a batch with coconut. The caramel mixtures are poured into pans, cooled, cut and then enrobed in our chocolate. This morning the boys are in the other house wrapping chocolate, and learning from David instead of their normal Saturday Morning farm work. Hopefully, between working indoors and sampling their work, they are enjoying the change.

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