The phrase ‘Bean to Bar’ is thought to have originated from America in the late 1990s or early 2000s when a couple of enterprising individuals decided to make their own chocolate bar from scratch. Since then, it’s blossomed into a phrase employed by many chocolate producers to intimate a sense of quality and craft about their particular bar, but what does it actually mean?
Although there’s no official definition as of yet, the term ‘Bean to Bar’ is very much about the process of how the chocolate is made in the first place. Many high street confectionary brands owned by enormous commercial organisations will often buy their beans in bulk from a variety of different sources with an eye for mass production, whereas smaller, independent chocolate producers will often source their cocoa beans from a single plantation, developing working relationships with the cocoa farmers or specialist traders to better understand the environment in which their cocoa is grown and ultimately how the variety of the cocoa bean, the impact of the climate and of the soil where the cocoa trees grow, and the farming methods used will impact the flavour of the bar that they create.
Each stage of the production process is paramount to building the desired texture, colour and most importantly the flavour profiles of the finished bar, and as a result many ‘Bean to Bar’ producers involved in these early stages, have an in-depth knowledge, appreciate and control of the process which other large scale, profit-lead organisations may well lack. This usually means that ‘Bean to Bar’ producers have a vested interest in the ecological impact of the cocoa production itself, and the economic prosperity and social welfare for the cocoa farmers and their communities; which leads companies like James Cadbury’s Love Cocoa to run their ‘plant a tree project’ to help combat deforestation in West Africa, or Cachet to implement their ‘cocoa for schools’ initiative in Tanzania.
These sorts of grass roots projects aimed at having a real, positive impact on the environment, living and working conditions of the cocoa farming communities are a big draw for us as Treat Me Good, in our drive to offer as many products that we can that do good as well as taste great!