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Bean-To-Bar Chocolate 101 with Tigre y Oliva

The local chocolate industry has prospered greatly these past few years. We’ve seen several chocolate brands emerge, bagging international awards left and right; proving the country’s viability as a chocolate-producing nation. On this episode of 101, we visit Tigre y Oliva to see just how these local chocolateries create those sleek bars, and to talk about the distinct characteristics of Philippine single-origin bean-to-bar chocolates.

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate

Bean-to-bar” refers to the process in which a chocolatier controls all stages of chocolate production—from the cultivation of the cacao (bean) to the crafting of the final product (bar). It’s a conscious socio-economic response to conventional commercial chocolate practices, wherein brands buy pre-made chocolate, then just mold them into bars; or use bad cacao beans and mask the flavor with heaps of sugar.

The bean-to-bar model enables transparency. By tracing the movement of the product from the farmer to the consumer, chocolatiers are able to ensure the quality of their chocolate, as well as the efficiency of their systems. It also supports local farmers, as well as recognizes cacao grown in our own soil.

Step 1: Sorting

Tigre y Oliva’s production team manually sort their dried cacao beans. The pile is rid of smaller beans, as well as deformed or spoiled ones. Sorting helps ensure that roasting is uniform in the next step.

Step 2: Roasting

Following sorting, the beans are transferred to a roasting machine, and  roasted at 232 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes. The roaster tosses the beans through a rotating cylinder for even roasting, and to prevent burning. Afterwards, the beans are emptied into a receiving bucket, then moved to metal trays. Next, they rest for 6 hours to one day on a metal rack.

The roasting process draws out moisture from the beans, so there’s about a 400 gram deficit after this step.

Step 3: Winnowing

Winnowing refers to the act of blowing air through the cacao beans in order to remove its husks. At Tigre y Oliva, this step is done using a makeshift cracker made using a juicer. The machine pulverizes the beans; and then, with a vacuum, separates cocoa nibs with its husks. The nibs can be consumed as is; while the husks may be re-purposed. (Tigre y Oliva turns them into tea.)

Step 4: Grinding

Subsequently, cocoa nibs are ground to create chocolate liquor (non-alcoholic, in case you’re wondering). To make chocolate, cocoa butter and sweetener (typically sugar) are added. Tigre y Oliva puts the cocoa butter in the grinder first; then once it melts, they incorporate the cocoa nibs and sugar batch by batch. Adding the ingredients gradually helps the grinder easily incorporate everything into a smooth mixture.

Grinding lasts about 70-76 hours. Though after each day, the team stops the process to scrape down the chocolate on the sides of the grinder.

Step 5: Tempering

The chocolate bar-making process results in the uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter. The different sizes of crystals causes the chocolate to be matte and crumbly. Tempering heats and cools the chocolate in specific temperatures for about 20 minutes. This step brings chocolate to a stable form, giving it a snap and glossy finish.

Step 6: Cooling

The tempered chocolate is then transferred to bar-shaped containers. After that, they cool in a freezer for a couple of minutes before being packaged.

Step 7: Wrapping

Tigre y Oliva wraps all of their chocolate manually using designed paper packages. The wrappers indicate where the chocolate originated. Their current line features variants using beans from Davao, Bohol, and South Cotabato.

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