From bean to bar: small-batch chocolate from Chocolarder
Cocoa connoisseur Mike Longman on his quest for superb new flavours
I worked in kitchens to pay my way through an economics degree and quickly realised that cooking was my passion. As a commis chef working with bread, pastry and chocolate, I was fascinated by how many times the chocolate pudding could be reinvented and wondered about the process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate.
The science is tricky. First, I taste the bean to determine its quality, then experiment with styles of roasting. Then it goes through the grinding and conching stages. Since no micro-batch chocolate-making equipment exists, I’ve become an inventor, adapting machinery parts from different cuisines: I’ve modified equipment used for grinding bulgar wheat in India, and our cocoa-butter press has been upscaled using a car jack.
I’m always creating unusual chocolate flavours, but my biggest challenge is getting a 100-per-cent chocolate bar I’m happy with, because it comes down to the finest details of sourcing the perfect beans and roasting them in exactly the right way. Being involved from bean to bar has also opened up a whole world of flavours.