For many chocolate makers, the process of making their products involves adding many ingredients.
But not for Matt Chimenti from Origin Organic Chocolate Makers. For him, the beauty of chocolate is in the simplicity of the bean itself, and its unique flavours from the soils where it was grown.
Matt sources his beans from countries across the world, including Uganda, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Madagascar, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
The cacao pods are picked from the trees, the fruit are cut open and the beans are scooped out. “One pod has about 100 beans in it, and that makes one 100-gram block of chocolate,” Matt said.
The beans are fermented and then dried, before being sent to Matt, who sorts them.
“Every bean is unique,” he said. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is something about every bean. I like to work with the natural flavour of the bean.”
Matt then decides whether to roast the beans or not.
“Roasting changes the profile of the bean. It sort of caramelises it,” he said. “But I might get a bean that is a bit more aromatic or fruity, and you want to preserve that.”
Matt then begins processing the beans, which helps enhance the flavour.
The beans go through the pin mill, which crushes and grinds them, before winnowing removes the husks. The nibs then go into a refiner for 48 hours, which crushes them down and becomes a liquid due to the lovely oils in the chocolate. The sugar is added to the liquid.
Conching then takes place, where air is introduced to ‘drive off the volatiles’, which are any strong aromas. The chocolate is tempered, and then deposited into waiting moulds, whether it be buttons or bars, settled and then sent through the cooling tunnel, ready for packaging.
The whole process takes one week from start to finish.
“It takes time to develop the flavour,” Matt said.
And the most popular? The 85 per cent Peru chocolate.
Matt tries to source beans directly from the farmers where possible, and remembers a special occasion a few years ago where he received beans directly from a farmer in Papua New Guinea.
“The farmers there had never tasted their own chocolate, so I sent some back to them to taste, as well as some books,” he said.