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Why choose Bean to Bar Chocolate made in India?

Bean to Bar chocolates made in india
Bean to Bar Chocolates made in India

10th April 2021, Chennai, India

The year 2021 can be considered a tipping point for the Bean to Bar industry in India. The bean to bar chocolate market in India has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last 2-3 years and is worth about 10 Crores (Cocoatrait Research) in 2021. India currently boasts of around 28 small, medium and large sized bean to bar chocolate makers all demonstrating healthy growth rates and growing at over 40% Y-O-Y on an average. Cocoatrait forecasts that there would be over 40 branded bean to bar chocolate makers by 2022. Interestingly, Covid-19 has only had a temporary dampening effect on the category and there seems to be minimal impact on sales overall in the year 2020.

For the interested, many mass produced industrial chocolates are also made from bean to bar. However, not all. In fact several premium and luxury chocolate brands do not control their entire chocolate making process. They simply buy bulk industrially produced chocolate and melt them, mix certain ingredients and mould them into chocolate bars or other chocolate products. This can be a fairly simplistic process and a bean to bar chocolate maker has a lot on the plate to deal with.

Understanding of how flavours of cacao are impacted by genetic variety (genotype), climate, bean composition, soil type, age of cocoa tree, postharvest treatments of the beans such as fermentation and drying, processing such as roasting, refining, conching, tempering as well as storage and transportation make bean to bar chocolates a balanced mix of both a science and art. This is a very interesting subject for chocolate makers, the trade and consumers alike.

From the supply side, this rise of craft or artisanal Bean to Bar chocolate makers in India has been bought about by the availability of small scale equipments, access to knowledge/technology and availability of raw materials (cacao beans) locally. Consumer exposure towards fine foods and beverages like wine, speciality coffee, teas & beer attributed primarily to increased travel, rise in disposable income, decreased propensity to savings and access to information has driven demand noticeably over the last few years.

In India and even globally, there is a misconception about terms such as “craft,” “fine” “artisanal” or “small batch,” in chocolate and in other food categories. Many chocolate brands available on Indian shelves have been imported and/or finished in India using bulk chocolate made industrially from the bulk variety of beans which are usually imported from bulk cacao producing countries like africa. By alkalising cacao, mass market chocolate manufacturers are able to manipulate the flavour, acidity and colour. This is why mass-market dark chocolate is usually intensely bitter with little flavour complexity and are overly dark in colour. The intense bitterness after alkalising is then offset by adding excessive sugar and also milk (in some cases) to make it more palatable to the masses consuming it as a replacement of traditional sweets! This bitterness becomes evident when you consume a 50% dark chocolate where most of the balance 50% is sugar and the chocolate still remains bitter.

Time needed: 5 minutes.

This is why we decided to write this blog post to help understand why it makes more sense to support bean to bar chocolates over mass produced supermarket or imported chocolate brands and why choosing a chocolate made from Indian cacao beans almost becomes a duty of an Indian citizen.

  1. Better for the Farmer


    The reality is that, in the traditional mass market cacao & chocolate value chain, the farmer realises a fraction of the value of the final chocolate product sold. Bean to bar makers pay a premium for better quality beans, mainly because they lack the expertise to process lower quality beans and make fine chocolate with it. It is usually more beneficial that a farmer embraces direct-trade (with the bean to bar maker) rather than fair-trade certifications. When the farmer gets a premium for his beans over the fair trade price, he is able to pay market wages to the labourers working at the farm. In many cases, we have seen farmers forward integrating to become farm to bar makers or as some say soil to bar makers. This certainly ensures that all the value generated is benefitting the farmer directly. Further, farmers are encouraged to improve their post harvesting processes and this helps them increase the value of their produce and make them self reliant.Why choose Bean to Bar Chocolate made in India?

  2. Better for the planet

    Apart from Bean to bar chocolates being beneficial for the farmer, they are also better for the sustainability of the land where it is grown, our planet and the environment overall. Cacao trees thrive in Biodiverse Environments. Bulk cacao for mass-market chocolate is often grown in monocultures, whereas fine flavour cacao used to make bean to bar chocolates, usually rely on varieties grown in polyculture where more than one plant species are grown together and imitate the diversity of natural agroforest ecosystems. It is also believed that cacao when grown polyculture agroforestry systems, also have higher carbon capture capacity benefitting the planet greatly. Further, due to their agility and small size, most Indian bean to bar makers have the ability to practise sustainability in various measures at the farm, in chocolate production process and also in their packaging and distribution.

  3. Better for the Consumer

    As you have observed, bean to bar chocolates are usually better for the farmer, better for the environment, BUT is it better for consumers? Bean to Bar chocolate makers take pride in their high quality and short ingredient lists. A bar of craft chocolate is usually made of cacao, cocoa butter, and sugar. The emphasis for craft chocolate has always been on flavour, texture and taste – which means the cacao is the star of the bar. These chocolates elevate the overall experience of a chocolate bar. With innovative natural flavours and ingredients used, boundaries are expanded and it raises the bar for consumers. This is in contrast to mass market chocolates. Over processing of chocolate leads to loss of vital benefits of cacao in mass produced chocolates. Various studies over the last few years have discovered that cacao is packed with antioxidants and flavanols. Diets high in antioxidants and flavanols have shown to benefit cardiovascular health, provide anti-inflammatory properties and help regulate blood sugar. There is a lot of research which suggests that consuming dark chocolate which is high in cacao has positive implications on stress levels, mood, memory and immunity. However, here’s the catch: not all chocolate contains the same amount of antioxidants. We believe that while it is easy to call chocolate a health product, we remain committed to calling a craft bean to bar chocolate as a healthier alternative rather than a healthier product. What are the health benefits of bean to bar chocolates? How real are they? Click to read more.

  4. Making India Atmanirbhar

    Atmanirbhar Bharat, which translates to ‘self-reliant India’, is the Hindi phrase used in relation to economic development in India. With the rise of bean to bar makers, 100% truly indian chocolates are now being offered. These chocolates made from bean to bar, use only indian ingredients starting from cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter. Most equipments used are Indian. Indian Stone grinders make for an interesting equipment used for processing. Even the packaging material is 100% made in india. Hence consuming an indian origin bean to bar chocolate helps India remain atmanirbhar and greatly reduces the reliance on imports. The value is generated in india and is consumed in india and hence helps india remain self reliant. This is a very important contribution in helping build the economy.

  5. Supporting local artisans

    Prime Minister of India’s latest slogan “Be vocal about local” has certainly captivated the Indian audiences in the recent past, and rightly so! While chocolate is a lot of fun, making chocolate, especially when you start from cocoa beans all the way to the final chocolate bar, is a difficult job! Bean to bar chocolate makers find the right cacao, establish trustworthy relationships with cacao farmers and to plan the entire supply chain properly. Like for every artisan, precision and patience are keys in trying to achieve the best chocolate possible. Only true passion and the unending drive to supply great products can make them go through so many difficulties. The introduction of local flavours further add an element of innovation and make for interesting offerings. It is our national duty to support bean to bar chocolate makers!

  6. Supporting the Startup Ecosystem

    Startups are small companies but they usually play a significant role in economic growth of a country. Startups create more jobs and more employment means an improved economy. Not only that, startups also contribute to economic dynamism by spurring innovation competing directly with established and larger companies and increase healthy competition which propels consumer spending and hence contribute directly and indirectly to taxes. In the case of bean to bar chocolates, startups also help us expand the geographic reach of startups which are traditionally concentrated in urban areas.

  7. Facilitating innovation

    With an ability to make chocolate exciting again, bean to bar chocolate makers have complete freedom to experiment with outrageous flavours, designs, techniques and creations in all aspects and at each stage of the chocolate. This brings new dimensions of flavour, experience and innovation into the process and extends the reach of the category to more consumers.The Kocoatrait Spice Collection

Sustainable & Planet Friendly Indian Bean to Bar Chocolates
Video: Bean to Bar chocolate making journey

At this nascent stage of the bean to bar industry in india, one needs to be wary of claims that are being made by chocolate brands who wrongly position themselves as fine, craft or artisanal. While consumers tend to judge a book by its cover (literally), a pretty wrapper is not the best indicator of great flavour or pure craftsmanship. Working with industrially made bulk chocolate and simply melting it to be put on moulds is significantly easier than selecting, sourcing, sorting, grading, roasting, cracking and de-shelling cacao beans!

For Further details contact the author: L Nitin Chordia; +919600064846; nitin@cocoatrait.com

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Difference between Cacao and Cocoa

In india, traditionally, sab kuch chalta hai has been the usual expectation, approach and attitude of both consumers and brands towards claims that are made. The FSSAI and the Advertising Standards Council of India have stepped up a great deal to monitor cases of misleading advertisements and claims in the Food and Beverage sector. However, the recent honey episode clearly exposes how Indian consumers are known to have a careless attitude towards many purchases they make. They do not question most claims and hence many brands take advantage of the loopholes. Coming to the topic of this article, what is the difference between Cacao and Cocoa? Lets dive in!

In almost every consumer interaction I have had in the recent past, i have been asked a question about the difference between Cacao and Cocoa. To start with, the botanical name of the tree on which cocoa pods grow is Theobroma Cacao. It is the bitter seed of this fruit which is processed into chocolate starting from from Bean to Bar. The cocoa pod are first carefully harvested (cut from the tree) and then the pulp which coats the seeds is removed from the pods and put together in the fermentation box for fermentation for 5-7 days and then usually sun dried.

Untill this stage, most of the processes are natural and happen at the farm (except drying using artificial dryers in case of rains) and the beans are referred to as cacao beans. However, once the beans travel and reach the chocolate processing unit, the chocolate maker starts by grading and sorting the beans and roasting them. This is usually the 1st artificial step that is administered on the beans. Till before the roasting stage, the beans are referred to as Cacao beans. Once the beans are roasted, they are usually referred to as cocoa beans. Cocoa usually means beans that have been processed. Post roasting, cocoa (or chocolate) liquor is made by refining the beans and is then pressed to separate cocoa butter and the resultant powder. This liquor is NOT referred to as Cacao liquor, it is referred to as cocoa liquor because it is made from processed (roasted) beans!

As next steps, commercial chocolate manufacturers treat (alkalise) cocoa to get rid of the acidity and bitterness of low quality or mass produced cacao beans that are used. Alkalised cocoa is famously called as Dutch processed cocoa !!! With us being clear about the usage of the term cocoa, let us understand what cacao refers to! Cacao is used as a term for a product that is less processed than other products. To take an example of cocoa powder, if the powder is alkalised, it is called as cocoa powder. However, if it is not alkalised, it can be called as Cacao powder.

However, your insight and inquisitiveness should not stop here! Many health and nutritional experts refer to the usage of cacao as a superfood and in many of their recommendations and recipes without really expanding or explaining on what is the exact product they are referring to! It is researched extensively and believed that Cocoa contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. However, most of the antioxidants are available in non processed cacao and the benefits reduce as they are further processed. This means RAW beans contain most of the benefits that have been researched! Roasting and alkalising it results in the most loss of antioxidants. However, we must remember that cacao also contains a lot of fat (50% by weight!). Hence it is useful to press out the fat from it. When pressed, the resultant product is powder. If the beans are not roasted (to retain antioxidants) and powder is pressed, the resultant product is RAW cacao powder and is believed to retain the most antioxidants and the most healthy! Hence it is best to use RAW cacao powder or RAW cacao nibs if the aim is to accentuate health benefits from cacao.

Bakers must also note that baking soda causes an increase in pH and subsequent destruction of flavanol compounds and antioxidant activity. Hence it is best to avoid baking soda in your healthy bakes.

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Team Building session with chocolates. Now Virtually!

Team building session with chocolates. Please click here to access the presentation on how HR/Project managers can engage their teams virtually for a team building activity during this pandemic. Link: Click Below are a few testimonials from our clients.

We reached out to Nitin for a team session on appreciating Indian bean to bar chocolates. The team enjoyed the bonding over the session and learnt a lot about making, eating and enjoying chocolates. Nitin engaged with many of them and answered all their queries which made it very interactive. Whilst initially a two hour session, we went on for nearly three hours. All thanks to Nitin and his wonderful chocolates!

– Yash J Ashar, Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Mumbai

Given the continued WFH, we were looking for a fun and informative virtual session that would help the team interact. Some of the other options we considered were stand up comedy or concert, but we felt with Nitin’s knowledge and credentials and the excellent Kocoatrait chocolates, a chocolate appreciation session would be more interactive and engaging. We were not disappointed – the session was excellent and everyone really enjoyed it. We would highly recommend it.

– Prashant Gupta, Partner and National Practise Head (Capital Markets), Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, New Delhi

The chocolates that we are going to Taste, savour and appreciate and special too! They are planet friendly, Zero Waste, Single Origin Bean to Bar Chocolates. The video below describes the journey of Kocoatrait chocolates from bean to bar!

The Journey fo Planet Friendly Kocoatrait chocolates from Bean to Bar

You could also choose to include a zero waste sustainable and planet friendly chocolate gift box (options available in reusable TIN and Plam leaf). This box lends itself very well to the overall virtual chocolate appreciation experience. The box is available to view at: https://cocoatrait.com/product/zero-waste-gift/

From an HR perspective, the top 10 benefits of virtual team building are listed here: https://www.teamtactics.co.uk/blog/2020/04/03/top-10-benefits-of-virtual-team-building/

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Bake Better: Chocolate couverture made with Desi Khandsari a.k.a Muscovado Sugar

Why should you be baking with Khandsari Sugar and care if the baking chocolate you are using is sweetened with it? Read on..

Muscovado, also khandsari and khand, is a type of partially refined to unrefined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavour made from thickened sugar cane syrup. It is neither bleached nor contains harmful chemicals and additives and hence considered a less processed substitute to white sugar. It is dark brown in colour usually. Khandsari and Gur (jaggery) are the most popular forms of the traditional sugars in northern India.

Khandsari sugar is usually darker than other sugars

The largest producer and consumer of khandsari is India. The English name “muscovado” is derived from a corruption of Portuguese açúcar mascavado (unrefined sugar).The Indian English names for this type of sugar are khandsari and khand (sometimes spelled khaand). Nearly two thirds of the total sugarcane produced had been used for manufacturing of the traditional sugars in 1930’s. However, after introduction of sugar refinery mills and their significant growth and increased demand for white sugar associated with increase in per-capital income among the population, the demand for the traditional sugars declined. By 2000, only 32.5% of the total sugarcane produced in India was used for manufacturing of Gur and Khandsari.

Muscovado a.k.a Khandsari sugar sugar is unrefined cane sugar that contains natural molasses. It has a rich brown color, moist texture, and toffee-like taste. It’s commonly used to give confections like cookies, cakes, and candies a deeper flavor but can also be added to savory dishes. This is the reason why Kocoatrait chocolate couvertures have a deeper and unique toffee like note. This helps bakers add a slightly unique flavour to their final products. This is perhaps the main reason you should be Baking with Khandsari Sugar.

The use of khand in India in making sweets has been traced to at least 500 BC, when both raw and refined sugar were used. Along with gur, khandsari unrefined sugar is India’s traditional sweetener,[28] commonly used in traditional recipes for masala chai (spiced Indian tea), eating with roti by mixing with melted ghee, traditional Indian sweets that require sugar such as kheer (Indian rice pudding), gur or khand chawal (sweetened rice) or laddu. Khandsari (muscovado) is used in traditional Ayurveda medicine to aid blood purification, digestion, bone health and the lungs.

Having said the above, our verdict is as follows: While it is true that khandsari has more nutritional value than white sugar.  But let us be real.  One should not be eating sugar for the vitamins and minerals! The fact is that khandsari is minimally processed and has a unique flavour profile which makes it interesting to work with. This should be the reason you should consume it. Further, there has always been a debate about bone char being used to refine sugar. We just could not get around proving that, so we decided to avoid the problem instead of solving it ! We do not encourage the health claims associated with khandsari. However, using minimally processed and safe ingredients is always something we are eager to do Thats why we buy only USDA organic certified khandsari sugar for use in Kocoatrait chocolate products.  

https://www.longdom.org/open-access/alternative-and-supplementary-health-model-on-traditional-sugars.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscovado
Michael Krondl, Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert, Chicago Review Press, ISBN 978-1556529542, pp. 34–35