Post by livelihoodchocolate on Jan 7, 2020 8:35:49 GMT -5
I live in a very poor community in the Philippines. I got inspired to make chocolate because a lot of my neighbors have cacao trees and they usually feed the fruit to the pigs or save a little to make a simple hot chocolate drink. During summer months there are a lot of tourists in our town, so there is a market for a souvenir chocolate.
I am investigating the possibility of starting a social enterprise business to help alleviate poverty by producing and selling chocolate. So, I walked around my neighborhood and told people what I wanted to do, and they gave me several kilos of dried beans. I have been learning and experimenting ever since.
I have not run the numbers yet, but I suspect the main barrier to making a chocolate that is affordable to our target market is the cocoa butter. Here is my question: is there a way to make milk chocolate without using the expensive ingredient cocoa butter?
I know many of you will gasp at what I have tried as a substitute:
Coconut Oil - I was not able to temper this, and it barely remains solid at room temperature.
Crisco Shortening - Same as above.
There is only a small portion of our market that will enjoy a dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is preferred here. Any help or advice (even if you say 'give up!') is greatly appreciated.
This is very cool and could be very successful. I look forward to following your progress!
If your target market is tourists buying souvenir chocolate, you should be able to price the chocolate high enough to be able to afford cocoa butter. I'd also imagine that there would be plenty of demand for a dark chocolate. Assuming the tourists are coming from all over, there should be lots of different preferences. Maybe start with dark chocolate and then expand into milk as the business grows.
To your actual question, as you've found, there's no good substitute for cocoa butter as a fat in chocolate. You'll either need to buy it or press your own. There are some smaller oil presses out there, but I'm not sure about availability in the Phillipines. Alibaba may be a source. Another option is building your own press. Which path to go depends a lot on how much chocolate you plan to make. Do you have an idea of what your volume would be?
You mention that you were given dried cacao. Was this fermented before drying?
Post by livelihoodchocolate on Jan 7, 2020 18:42:48 GMT -5
Hi! Thanks for your reply. As for our market, %95 of the tourists that visit here are middle class Filipino families, and the 5% of foreigners are backpackers with small budgets. I need to recruit a business student who can write a business case for the project here so we know how much we can charge based on our market and how much our product will cost. I started to give out some dark and milk chocolate to my friends to see which one they like better, and although not a scientific assessment, my sense is that the culture here prefers a milk chocolate over a dark. But out of necessity, I may have to start with dark and see how it goes. I will start looking at presses, or a DIY solution. The only source of cocoa butter I have been able to find so far costs about $15 for a half kilo. As far as volume, I want to start small and build up as the business case works out. I am not trained in starting businesses, but the little I have seen is that small scale operations tend to be less profitable than a larger scaled up operation. For now, I am hoping to be able to employ a few people and break even, if possible. If this works then we can raise some capital and grow the business more. I know this is a long process and I am not in a hurry, as this is just a side thing I am starting on top of running our environmental NGO. I will be looking at a family this week that has 20 trees that are producing fruit to see if I can set them up to ferment some of their beans. So no, the beans I collect here are not fermented. This is very noticeable when making a dark chocolate and less so when making a 1:1:1:1 milk chocolate. I am trying to find more resources about how to harvest the pods, caring for the trees, fermenting the beans and properly drying them - I think most people on these forums get beans that are ready to roast, so not a lot of discussion on the earlier processing part. Thanks again for your help! This is a super fun thing that I hope can help bring a few families out of poverty using a resource (chocolate) that is available and has a lot of potential.
Yeah, most of us are starting with already fermented and dried cacao, so not much discussion about fermentation here. You'll find, though, that fermentation is crucially important to the final flavor of your chocolate.
I'm not an expert on this side of things by any means, but I think that even with 20 trees, you probably won't have enough cacao to do a good fermentation. You may need to gather pods from multiple neighbors and ferment them all together to achieve the heat needed.
You might want to contact the 2 founders of Marou chocolate in Vietnam in order to get more advise. They started 7 years ago and are now processing almost 100 tons of locally sourced cocoa beans per year, helping the farmers of different regions of Vietnam to better take care of their trees. Before them, no one was producing a good quality chocolate in Vietnam and many producers were seriously considering stopping to grow cocoa. They really revitalized the market.
Post by livelihoodchocolate on Feb 24, 2020 4:33:33 GMT -5
Hi! Thanks for the advice. I certainly want to learn from others who have been successful... and who knows how far this will go? For now, I am just learning how to do it myself so I can teach others. I am discovering that not all beans are good... in fact some are absolutely awful!
I found a somewhat local (3 hours away) producer of beans that ferments and dries them and will sell to me. I am thinking that they ferment for too long, though, because even after almost 40 hours in the melanger, I am still getting a citrus flavor in my 70% cacao 30% sugar product. Maybe the beans weren't dried out enough, or I need to roast them longer. I will try a longer roast for the next batch.
I was thinking that I would be able to make a small fermentation bin, but you are saying that you need a lot in order to ferment properly? Is that because you need to control the temperature, which would be difficult to do with a small volume? Thanks for your help!