Once in Dunedin, the beans are processed. We use simple equipment and our processes are very hands-on because none of our equipment is automated.
Beans are checked and graded into sizes. Beans that are too small or flat are rejected, with the remainder being roasted to bring out the rich chocolate flavour. After roasting, the beans are cracked and then winnowed to remove the dry outer husk.
The remaining part of the bean is called the ‘nib’ and looks much like small bits of walnut. This nib is roughly half cocoa butter and half cocoa solids.
The nib is then ground to a paste in large grinder/refiners which have a granite base and granite rollers. Sugar or other sweetener is added during the grinding phase.
Over the course of many hours the paste or liquor is refined to a very fine texture, and the acidic aromas are driven off. The final part of the process is conching, where the cocoa particles are smoothed out to improve the mouth-feel of the chocolate. The whole process takes around three days non-stop.
After a couple of weeks resting time, where the flavours get to know each other, the chocolate is re-melted, tempered to give it a good gloss and snap, and moulded into bars. These are hand-wrapped and are finally ready for sale.