Patric Chocolate’s Chocolate-Making Flowchart:

If one searches online, there are actually quite a few flowcharts that visually describe chocolate making from bean to bar. Many of these flowcharts attempt to show every permutation possible within the realm of chocolate making. This adds confusion because certainly not every possible process is relevant to every type of chocolate. So, we decided to create our own flowchart that narrows down the processes to only the steps utilized at Patric Chocolate to create fine dark chocolate from bean to bar.

For those of you who have read our post about Patric Chocolate’s production processes from late September, the content that has been translated into graphic format will already be familiar. However, explaining information graphically can certainly add clarity to a complicated process such as chocolate making, so hopefully many of you will find the flowchart to be helpful. There will be a bit of commentary after the chart.

The process starts in the upper left-hand corner and moves downward.


*Cacao “pods” are not true pods at all. You can read more about what they really are in a another Patric Chocolate post.

In the flowchart above, you will notice that sometimes we create cocoa liquor for the purpose of removing cocoa butter, which is then added to some chocolate. Not all chocolate needs extra cocoa butter, and in fact, adding extra cocoa butter can sometimes negatively impact the texture and the intensity of flavor chocolate. However, in cases where the chocolate percentage drops below 70%, extra cocoa butter must be added to the chocolate to maintain a luscious and smooth texture. In this case, it is important to note that we are adding cocoa butter that comes directly from the same cocoa beans from which the chocolate is made. Most of the time companies add inexpensive bulk cocoa butter that either does not share the same flavor profile, or has been deodorized, a process which weakens the overall flavor profile of the chocolate. Patric Chocolate will never use bulk cocoa butter, deodorized or otherwise.

One final note: Patric Chocolate begins the chocolate-making process at step five with cleaning the cacao by hand. Cacao must be harvested, fermented and dried in the country of its origin. This means that we can’t be entirely involved in every part of the first few steps. That being the case, we are, and have been, actively working to grow and strengthen relationships with small farmers so that we can better control these very important parts of of the chocolate making process.

2 replies
  1. Formaggio
    Formaggio says:

    Thanks for the flow chart! A few questions – when the viscous liquid is further refined what does this mean? Conching takes place for how long typically? Why age the chocolate? Why don’t chocolate makers typically tell us how much cocoa butter has been added to a bar?

  2. Patric Chocolate
    Patric Chocolate says:

    My pleasure!

    Further refined means that the chocolate continues to be refined over time after the initial grinding of the nibs. This isn’t the case with all chocolate types. Some are more roughly ground, and this does have a related impact on flavor and mouthfeel.

    Conching can take place for relatively short periods of time or much longer periods, for example, from maybe 12 hours to over 72 hours. It depends upon the machinery used and the philosophy of the chocolate maker. Patric Chocolate conches for up to 96 hours, and some Swiss companies used to, and perhaps still do, conche for even longer than that.

    Aging alters the flavor of the chocolate in a positive way. There is not concensus on what is happening chemically in the chocolate that results in a more refined and less harsh flavor, and most mass producers of chocolate, perhaps all of them, no longer age chocolate, but historically small chocolate makers aged dark chocolate for months, and confectionery companies would actually require couverture aged for a certain period of time in their specifications.

    Regarding cocoa butter, you’ll find me clearly stating on the 67% bar page of the online store, that we add “about 3.75%” cocoa butter to the bar. The reason that we don’t print the % on the 67% bar is that if we want to adjust the number slightly, due to the fact that cocoa beans can have a somewhat variable amount of cocoa butter content depending upon genetics, among other factors, then it makes it hard to do without making the packaging obsolete. Let me tell you, packaging is not cheap!! It is far easier, and far less expensive, to update a webpage. This is the same reason that we don’t print “organic cacao” or “single estate” on our bars, even though both apply to the Madagascar cacao that we use. Things can always change without warning (cyclones have a habit of destroying entire orchards, and disease can do the same).

    Best,

    Alan

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