Even at the early stages of creating Madhu Chocolate I knew I wanted to go bean to bar. However, I was intimidated by the process. We started our little operation with raw nibs, and I wondered if the additional cracking and winnowing would be worth the effort. I knew I at least had to try, so after getting a handle on the basic processes and the flavors I wanted, as well as knocking out a few hundred bars as practice, I decided to give it a go.
I went to Uncommon Cacao to try out some of their single origin beans and ended up trying out beans from four different locations in South America. Let me tell you: The first three batches were WORK! I don't have equipment so I was cracking the beans by hand like some sort of idiot. It took me about five and a half hours to get them ready for the machine. It was terrible. I hated it. I hated myself. I cried over how dumb I was to think this was remotely feasible. I screamed for my mother. And it wasn't even just me, there were two of us working on this!
I was honestly prepared to quit it after all that effort, but then I sampled the finished bars. Of course, they were amazing. Fresh chocolate from the bean is richer, smoother, more complex. We knew we had to make the switch, but it wasn't going to happen until we could find some way to make it less time consuming. After what feels like an eternity of online research (but was probably only about an hour) we decided to try out the champion juicer. Our work cracking beans went from taking about 1/6th of my life to, literally, less than a minute. It was amazing.
Overall it was a steep learning curve, but we both agree it's worth it. Moving forward we'll be going bean to bar exclusively, and we cannot wait for all of the fascinating and fun flavors that we'll come up with as a result.