Have you ever heard of tree-to-bar chocolate?
If bean-to-bar chocolate is made by chocolate makers from scratch starting from the raw cocoa beans, the process for tree-to-bar chocolate starts even earlier.
“Tree-to-bar” defines a chocolate maker that also produces his/her own cacao beans. This implicates that the chocolate maker owns a piece of land where cacao is cultivated, fermented, and dried. The cocoa beans coming from this farm are then transformed into bean-to-bar chocolate, following a chocolate making process that preserves all the best natural flavors and unique characteristics of the local fine cacao. Some of the most important aspects of tree-to-bar chocolate are control, transparency and traceability, allowing chocolate makers to offer an ethical and sustainable product.
This tree-to-bar chocolate movement is slowly becoming a real trend in the industry. On one side, cocoa farmers in the places of origin are learning to make their own chocolate to increase profits and keep more value in their hands, instead of giving their precious cacao away to foreign manufacturers for a cheap price. On the other side, many chocolate makers are developing the desire to own their land to grow cacao and make chocolate that is the quintessence of single origin. In both cases, the cocoa farm and the chocolate making facility are usually in close proximity or are at least located in the same region or country.
Of course, making tree-to-bar chocolate isn’t an easy task. A company must acquire the skills and knowledge for both cocoa farming and chocolate making, while facing the challenges of both worlds. This means higher costs, more specialized resources and bigger risks. However, the result of all these efforts is a truly special chocolate that expresses a comprehensive vision and approach by the chocolate maker from seed to finished bars, while bringing complete traceability to the tasting table.
What are your favorite tree-to-bar chocolate brands?