In our Asheville Chocolate Factory, we roast, winnow, refine, grind, conche, and temper direct-sourced cacao. Here's a peek into how we create delicious small batch chocolate.
If you're curious about learning even more and seeing our process in real life, book a spot on one of our daily tours.
Although our cacao partners provide consistent, clean beans, we pass all cacao though a cleaning step before roasting. This process removes dust and debris using vibration and air filtration, ensuring pure raw material.
With gentle heat, we can develop and enhance the unique flavor potential in every bean. Roasting removes residual moisture, sterilizes, and creates new aromas. We carefully monitor temperature and taste test for doneness.
First the roasted seed is cracked, then the cacao “nibs” are separated from the seed’s papery husk in a process called winnowing. Husks can be used for tisanes, brewery infusions, and as a soil amendment. The nibs are the raw materials for making chocolate.
Nibs are first passed through a two-roll granite mill, to reduce their particle size, express some of the nib’s fat (cocoa butter), and facilitate fast liquefaction in the ball mill.
Thousands of pea-sized stainless steel balls are stirred in a water-jacketed drum, grinding and reducing the cacao particles to desired fineness. Here, we mix in other ingredients like sugar, milk powder, and additional cocoa butter.
Through exposure to heat and air, we can subdue, alter and even create new flavors. The agitation also has the effect of rounding particles; improving texture and workability.
Liquid chocolate is pumped onto a vibrating mesh screen to remove under-refined particles, ensuring a smooth finished chocolate.
Pure chocolate liquor is placed in a filter bag then pressed in a cylindrical chamber to extract the cocoa butter (about 50% of a cacao bean is fat). We use this origin cacao butter in our single origin chocolates.
Molding & Cooling
The chocolate is taken through a series of temperature changes in order to coax the cocoa butter into its most stable crystalline form, resulting in chocolate with a shiny appearance, pleasing melt, and good “snap”.
The tempered chocolate is pumped to a hopper, where chocolate is dosed into bar molds or directly onto the belt for chips and drops. It enters a cooling tunnel and exits ready for a quality check and packaging.
Bonbons & Bars
Ganache centers and caramels are fed through a small conveyer under a curtain of dark, milk, or white chocolate, resulting in a thin outer shell. Once enrobed in chocolate, they’re garnished by hand.
Each bar, bonbon, or confection is carefully wrapped and boxed; marking the end of its journey. All of our confections are available at the Chocolate Lounge, Chocolate Factory, and on our website.