Went to DOST IVA Regional office for SETUP defense.
I am bored with short stories lately so I making it longer this time.
After spending months of cacao research. Nope, it was not only months. The research took several years to produce great outcome and still ongoing. The research and development continues for as long as anyone is producing the product. Else, it will become outdated and be beaten by harsh competition. I have been studying cacao and chocolate making since the day I joined with my officemate (and at the same time my boss) with his little tabliya making venture.
Back then we were producing tabliya of inconsistent quality. Well, we always tried our best to get great outcome possible and maintain it. Sadly, we were not very successful with our old equipment line and raw beans.
First. We were using unfermented cacao beans. They are calling it here as the wash-and-dry. The bad thing about it is – when cacao beans were not fermented – there is no proper formation of flavor precursors necessary for making of excellent quality chocolate. Meaning, good chocolate starts from good beans. There is no way a bad batch could be converted to fine one. Not unless we throw a lot of sugar and flavoring in it, which is we never wants. We want to enhance natural flavors, not to hide it.
We discovered later that our favorite supplier were giving us bad batches of beans. Mostly rejects and unfermented. We never knew about it until we met a kind hearted man. He provided us with batch of true good fermented cacao beans. Now I know there are greater beans out there and they will be within my reach sooner.
Second. We were using the tulyasi roasting method. We were placing beans in pan (the tulyasi). Firing up the lpg stove. Then manually stirring it in attempt to get a nice even roast. But, no matter how nice and careful, we were not getting the good even roast we always wanted. Inspecting the outcome carefully, some were burnt, some were raw and some were barely acceptable. To make the things worst, the difference were noticeable in between batches. Customers want good consistent product and obviously, ours never suited their taste buds.
Good news, were are able to standardized a roasting method using a bread oven. A small sturdy lpg fueled heating device for only 12,500 pesos. It is not faster and easier compared to our previous but the result is very nice and consistent.
Third. To put it simply, there was no grinder suitable for cacao in our local market. We have no budget to get a suitable grinder abroad (until now). We first used a motorized cornmill, then a stone mill when the first one broke. The two machines could grind cocoa nibs just fine with the naked eye. Looked very smooth but not. It contained numerous rough particles that were not pleasant when eaten as is or prepared into hot/cold chocolate drink. We know very well that chocolate has silky smooth texture when eaten.
We got lucky when we gambled with a pricey peanut butter grinder. With some tweaks and experimentation, we reduced down the particle size to acceptable value. We never know the numbers but it is on par with the commercially available brands.
Fourth. The molding method. We followed the traditional way of doing it. Forcing barely hardened cocoal liquor to polvoron molders. The result were irregular tablet shapes and heights. We’re molding pure unadulterated cacao with this tradional way. However, others are still trapped to mixing sugar in order to make the process easier.
I forgot to mention that we were molding it in its untempered state. It blooms overtime and we are convincing ourself it is a natural phenomenon. It is ugly but it is okay. It is still good to eat even if it has blooms. However, artisan and commercial chocolate industry threat fat blooms as bad thing. Why? Appeance has a great impact on flavor impression. We assume it is good tasting if it looks good. Based on science, tempered chocolate indeed taste better than untempered.
We invested on few polycarbonate chocoalte molds. Avoided tempering machine cause it was just too much for our penny. We studied and practiced hand tempering. Got it almost perfect and learned how to do it with ease.
We reinvented our product into a ready to eat chocolate bar made of only cacao and little sugar. It is gaining consumer acceptance and the sales volume is growing. We are very happy with it but still seeing big room for improvement. We wanted to reduce the particle size further and do a conching process for more flavor development. We are requesting a grinding machine than could do the purpose simultaneously, the melanger.