Bean-to-bar, artisinal or craft chocolate is a minimalist way of chocolate processing. Done in small batches, adding minimal ingredients, oftentimes a little cane sugar. It preserves, improves and highlights original bean flavor, contrary to what commercial scale manufacturer does. If you are a craft chocolate lover, you’ll probably noticing taste noise every batch.
For me, raw chocolate, in its strictest sense, is the bean coming out of cacao pod.
Raw chocolate makers are removing a step or more. They never roast the beans. In every procedure, equipment are calibrated so it never go beyond 42°C. Roasting starts at 100°C so there is definitely no roasting involved. Fermentation, refining and conching are so adjusted not to reach above 42°C.
Heat is detrimental to nutrients and other beneficial substances. So by controlling heat, there will be more gain fore every gram. Yeah, process it with extreme care like there is no other source!
I got a bit of skepticism here. In course of chocolate processing where no preservative is added, there is only one way to get rid of microbial contaminants. The heating process. The 100 to 150°C roasting temperature kills most microbial flora. Refining and conching heat might not be harmful to microbes, but, its lengthy duration makes up for it. Low heat but long duration equates to high heat short time.
If there is no heat treatment, any bacteria that comes in contact with cacao and subsequent products stay and is going to end in customer palate. Probably!
Irradiation might be an option, but then again, health concerns will arise.
On the positive side, pure chocolate is not conducive for microbial growth. Addition of other things to it is what makes it susceptible to spoilage. Example, milk encourages bacterial growth. Nut do the same and may also add aflatoxin producing fungi.