At the broadest level, any person or entity that transforms dry cacao into chocolate, regardless of method or volume.
Making chocolate involves several transformative steps, including cracking dry cacao, roasting, winnowing, milling, refining, conching, tempering, and molding. However, it is important to note that not every chocolate maker performs every step. For example, some makers do not roast; others, which sell couverture (chocolate for professionals to melt), do not necessarily temper the chocolate.
A chocolate maker is distinct from a chocolatier. Chocolatiers purchase finished chocolate (chocolate couverture), and use it to produce filled chocolates or molded chocolates (sometimes called chocolate bonbons), or chocolate bars.
The term “chocolate maker” does not apply to:
- Makers who transform cocoa nibs into chocolate (nibs being cracked pieces of dried cocoa beans)
- Makers who transform cocoa mass into chocolate (cocoa mass being cocoa beans that have been milled to liquor phase)
There is not a name for the 2 makers written above, but they cannot be considered chocolate makers.
Within the group of “chocolate makers”, there are different distinctions:
- Bean to bar or craft chocolate makers, who start from the dry cacao bean (before it is cracked into nibs), who prioritize using specialty cacao that reveals the personality of the cacao, without using vanilla or lecithin, who roast light and produces batches smaller than in the industrial industry (more than 500kg tends to be associated to semi-industrial or industrial production); in these cases, the final product is typically called “craft chocolate.”
- Traditional chocolate makers: these chocolate makers produce batches far smaller than the industrial makers but keep the “traditional” process: high roast, added cocoa butter and most of the time use vanilla and lecithin.
- Industrial chocolate makers: they produce large volumes (usually batches above 2000kg), roast high, add cocoa butter and because of their volume use “fine or bulk cacao” rather than specialty cacao.
All are considered chocolate makers, but they may need an additional label (“bean to bar,” “craft,” “two-ingredient,” and so forth) to describe their particular approach.
There are many examples of chocolate makers, operating at different scales. Among those who take an industrial approach are: Lindt & Sprüngli (Switzerland), Valrhona (France), Michel Cluizel (France), and Meiji (Japan). Among those who take a more traditional approach are: Bonnat (France), Pralus (France), Bernachon (France), Ducasse (France). Among the craft chocolate makers: Cacao de Origen (Venezuela), Fresco (USA), Soma (Canada), ’57 Chocolate (Ghana), and Afrikoa (South Africa.
Próximamente versión en español
Entry added: November 28, 2022
Verified on: September 14, 2023
Chloé Doutre-Roussel, Author, Consultant, Educator
Chocolate Maker & Educator
The Chocolate Connoisseur: For Everyone with a Passion for Chocolate, Chloé Doutre-Roussel (Penguin/Tarcher, 2006)
Chocolate Para Entendidos, Chloé Doutre-Roussel (Robin Books, 2013)
“Chocolatier versus Chocolate maker – what’s the difference?” Ecole Chocolat (not dated, accessed March 17, 2023)
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