It starts and ends with the beans. Unrefined Chocolate does nothing to add to or alter the flavor in order to convey the true taste from the cacao farm. We simply want to highlight what is already there.

Meet the Chocolate Maker

Howdy. My name is Nathan, and I make chocolate. The dots connected and the moons aligned, which led me to hawking dark chocolate bars around Knoxville. In late 2016, my wife's father, who is from Honduras, brought cacao beans on his trip to the U.S. The fermented smell was intoxicating, and since I am lover of all things bitter, I took to the Google to find how does one actually make chocolate from cacao beans. Fortunately, there were fantastic resources that led me to overworking my Champion Juicer and commandeering the wife's hair dryer. Things have advanced since then, and I'm happy to bring you a product that I am proud of, and that I hope you enjoy. Please stop by a farmers' market or drop me an email nathan@unrefinedchocolate.com to chat.

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Step 1 - Purchase and Sorting

All beans are ethically sourced from trusted wholesalers. Honduras is the only exception, which is directly sourced from a cooperative Santa Rosa, Honduras. In all cases the soil, weather, and farming practices play a large part in the final flavor of the chocolate bar. After the beans are fermented and dried, they are sent to the U.S. They are sorted to remove any items that simply aren't cacao and made ready for roasting.

Step 2 - Roasting and Winnowing

The beans are roasted to sanitize and develop the flavor. After the beans are cooled, they are cracked. The mix of chaff and nibs (cacao) are then put through a winnow to separate the two. The chaff is used for BBQs, compost, and sometimes chocolate tea.

Step 3 - Conching and Grinding

This step all happens in the same machine called a melanger. The melanger contains two stone wheels on a stone base that rotate and grind the chocolate from nibs to a liquor. Conching evenly distributes the cacao particals in the chocolate.

Step 4 - Tempering

The picture to the right is untempered chocolate. Untempered chocolate can be identified by its signature "bloom" or crystallization of the fat crystals to the surface. Tempering is the process of developing a balance between the right fat crystals and the wrong fat crystals to give the chocolate that perfect snap and a melting point around body temperature.

Step 5 - Molding and Packaging

Using plastic forms, the chocolate poured into molds. There isn't too much science here, and the primary goal is to get the chocolate into the mold with minimal mess (this is not always an easy task). The mold with the chocolate is then cooled and the chocolate is removed to be packaged. The dark chocolate should last up to six months to maintain its flavor if stored in a cool, dark place.