You're seeing quite a number of craft chocolate shops nowadays.
Yet there's still a lot to discover about specialty chocolate. There are myths that make our understanding of craft chocolate quite fuzzy. Let's tackle them one by one.
Craft and Industrial Chocolate Making Use The Same Methods
Chocolate making, whether craft or industrial, uses the same principles. However, in terms of method or process, there is a huge difference in these two.
To differentiate, craft chocolate is made by a "chocolate maker" who are individuals or companies that make chocolate in small to medium-sized batches. Industrial chocolates are made by a "chocolate manufacturer" which produces chocolate on a much larger scale. This difference in production volume requires different methods of chocolate making.
Craft Chocolate Is Competing With Industrial Chocolate
One can argue that the difference between craft chocolate and industrial chocolate is so fundamental that there really is no competition.
But then again, here's what's happening: craft chocolate makers are influencing the palate of chocolate eaters. Their minds (and mouths) have been opened up to a much broader sweet & savory flavor spectrum. Even exotic, Asian flavors like green matcha, miso and soy are finding its way into chocolate. So what will the industrial makers do? They will have to respond to that demand as well, creating a pseudo-competition with the small players.
Only Craft Chocolates are Bean-To-Bar
Craft chocolate is still in that stage of defining itself. There are still many terms loosely used and unregulated such as "bean-to-bar", "artisanal", and even "craft".
Robbie Stout, an American chocolate maker and co-founder of Ritual Chocolate, believes the term "bean-to-bar" doesn't define a product's quality. It merely describes the journey from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar ready for eating. “That says nothing about quality,” he says. "Hershey is bean-to-bar. Mars is bean-to-bar. Nestlé is bean-to-bar. Ritual is bean-to-bar. But Ritual is not Hershey, Mars or Nestlé.”
When you buy a piece of craft chocolate, ask the maker about its bean-to-bar story. You’ll be amazed at how far the beans have traveled before it reaches your mouth.
Craft Chocolate Business Is a Lucrative Business
You've been shopping around and you see craft chocolates carrying a hefty price tag. Sometimes 10x higher than mass-produced chocolates. Which leads some people to surmise that craft chocolate making is a lucrative business. Some producers may even enter this industry with that false impression since selling prices are high.
However, chocolate makers maintain that craft chocolate making is fueled by passion rather than profit.
With the premiumization trend, more consumers are starting to accept this higher price. From clean labels that tell you the origin of the bean, the source of the ingredients, to the intricate custom molding, you'll see and understand why you're paying that much for craft chocolates.
When you realize this new breed of chocolates involves more skills and care than industrial bars, the price is justified.
Craft Chocolate Is Nothing But The Same Chocolate I Know Wrapped In Fancy Packaging
Admit it. Sometimes you buy something because it looks pretty, and not really because of its quality. The craft chocolate industry is not exempted from such buyers. If you're in the business, you must specialize not only chocolate making but also marketing.
Be wary, though, that a pretty packaging is not an indicator of a good quality chocolate. Find out how exactly the chocolate came to being. What sets a good craft chocolate apart from others is the story of its creation. The quest lies in flavor.
With these myths clarified, we hope you, dear chocolate lover, will make better and informed decisions. Taste a lot of chocolates, be open to new experiences, and find that chocolate that brings YOU that perfect pleasure.
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