You'll hear us describe the chocolate we sell as 'fine chocolate', 'craft chocolate' or 'bean-to-bar' chocolate, so we thought we'd explain a little bit about what these terms mean to us. The definition of these terms is not set in stone and it's something that keeps evolving. There's no one term that will always describe all of the chocolate that we sell, and this is a good thing. If all of the finest chocolate in the world fit neatly into one descriptive term, it would only be a matter of time before cheap industrial chocolate makers would start to print it on their labels. We're already starting to see that with 'bean-to-bar'.
So, bean-to-bar is probably the easiest to explain. This term means that the chocolate makers are making chocolate from scratch, from the bean, and controlling the whole process from beginning to end. Small-scale makers often use this term to separate themselves from other small chocolate companies, most of which are chocolatiers, who buy in pre-made chocolate. However, most large-scale industrial chocolate makers also make their chocolate from the bean, so this term doesn't tell you too much about the level of quality, it just explains how the chocolate was made.
The meaning of ‘craft chocolate’ is still being debated, and probably will be for many years, just as people still debate the true meaning of ‘craft beer’. When we use this term, we’re talking about bean-to-bar makers who make chocolate on a small scale, using rare varietals of cacao to make the highest quality chocolate possible. Often these companies will have a known person or persons who make the chocolate, and there will be a distinctive personality to the chocolate they produce. Craft chocolate makers aim to celebrate the uniqueness of each bean they process, rather than aiming for an end product that is always identical.
‘Fine chocolate’ is another loose term, but when we use it we’re essentially describing any chocolate that is made with fine flavour cacao, where high quality and exceptional taste are the priority. Fine chocolate is mostly describing the quality, rather than the chocolate making style.
Everything we stock at The Chocolate Bar is fine chocolate, and almost everything we stock is craft chocolate. An example of something we stock that is fine chocolate but that we wouldn’t consider craft would be the Zotter Labooko range. Zotter produce absolutely incredible chocolate but we would consider them more of a medium-sized chocolate maker, so a bit bigger than most of the other companies we work with.
We hope this helps you to understand more about the chocolate we love. Really these labels are just a guideline and not supremely important. What matters to us is the individual stories and techniques of the chocolate makers, and of course the taste and texture of the chocolate they produce.