November 17, 2021
Over the last decade, the global craft chocolate scene has grown considerably and the UK has proven to be a real hotbed for some of the most renowned bean-to-bar chocolatiers on the market.
At USTUDIO, our curated range of craft chocolate features some of the best brands around. Here, we explain why craft chocolate beats mass-produced bars every time.
Bean-to-bar chocolate makers are an altogether different breed from the huge corporate chocolate companies. Mass-produced chocolate is uniform. So much so that every bite from every bar will be identical all year round. Moreover, mass-produced confectionary has astonishing levels of sugar. The synthetic bars are designed to be cheap and addictively sweet.
However, craft chocolate makers celebrate the unique flavours of bean-to-bar chocolate and are natural in taste - so you get the ‘real’ flavour of chocolate. Craft chocolatiers often only use a handful of ingredients to keep the recipe as simple and authentic as possible. The process, to those in the business, is an art form.
From the cacao tree to the wrapped bar in your hand, bean-to-bar refers to the chocolate-making process from start to finish. It’s often compared to the craft beer industry or viniculture. The peculiarities and imperfections of each batch of cacao make every bar of chocolate slightly different, with vintage cocoa beans even being used to make some types of craft chocolate.
The focus on craft chocolate lies firmly in the process. Chocolatiers work alongside cocoa farmers to source the highest-quality beans, which are carefully roasted, ground down and smoothed into quality chocolate. The chocolate makers who follow the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process ensure that the chocolate is fairly traded and responsibly sourced.
Most cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, who supply the mass-production chocolate giants, live in poverty due to the exertion of downward pressure on commodity prices. Premium craft chocolate brands, on the other hand, focus on sourcing the highest quality cocoa beans at fair prices - prioritising equity across the supply chain. It is the case with Fairtrade sales that farmer cooperatives get a Fairtrade Premium that they can spend on improving the overall quality and productivity of their farms.
With increasingly cultured and eco-conscious tastes, consumers are willing to invest a little more into products that are high-quality, fair to producers and kind to the planet. Chocolate is certainly no exception. Bean-to-bar chocolate helps bring fairness to the market, but most importantly, it’s the satisfying quality of just one piece that is worth the extra cost.
Think of craft chocolate as a vintage wine or a barrel-aged beer. It’s chocolate to think about; with notes and flavours dancing on your tongue and developing with each bite. You won’t eat this chocolate to satiate a sugar lust, but to learn and savour. That’s why it makes such an indulgent gift for a loved one who appreciates the finer things in life.
The processes by which craft chocolate is made also provide food for thought. Taza, for example, stone grind organic cacao beans into perfectly unrefined, minimally processed chocolate if you love a deep and pure flavour. Bare Bones create their chocolate by roasting the cacao on a modified Giesen coffee roaster and even engineered some of their equipment from scratch. Pump Street are renowned bakers as well as chocolate makers, hence their famous sourdough chocolate.
There are so many craft chocolate brands out there that offer something totally unique, especially when made by hand. But two things unify all of them; the level of care that goes into each and every bar and the excellent taste that arrives with each bite. Every square provides a rich cocoa hit and takes several minutes to enjoy, with the deep tastes lingering for several minutes after - the complete antithesis of rushing down bites of confectionary.
At USTUDIO, we supply some of the finest craft chocolate on the market which is always ethically traded. Browse the carefully curated range of chocolate on our website or pay a visit to our store located on Gloucester Road in Bristol.