Hello and good day!
I just put a new product online.
This product isn't as fun as some of our other products, but in its class, it is certainly one of the highest quality options available.
I mentioned a couple of months back that we now sell a sugar free chocolate bar in our chocolate shops. The bar is sweetened with monk fruit, and we developed it specifically for people who would like to avoid sugar.
We resisted putting out a sugar free bar for quite some time because we weren't able to make one that tasted good enough for our liking.
Non sugar sweeteners have their own flavor profiles and we had to learn how to work with them.
We've received very positive feedback on our sugar free bar and we're happy with how it turned out.
The problem is that we haven't figured out a good enough production process yet to be able to put the sugar free bar online.
Our main issue is that the base ingredient for the sugar free bar is our 100% untempered cacao mass.
The word "untempered" is the key to our challenges.
At the very end of the chocolate making process, chocolate is tempered.
The process is similar to tempering metal.
You manage the temperature of chocolate while it is in its liquid state so that the molecules will line up properly and the chocolate will become hard and shiny.
Once chocolate is tempered, you can pour it into molds, and it will cool into a solid bar or block that will have a firm snap, won't crumble easily, and won't automatically melt on your fingertips when you touch it.
The base chocolates that we use in all of our products, our dark chocolate and two milk chocolates, are manufactured by Max Felchlin AG, a 115-year-old Swiss chocolate maker located in the beautiful city of Schwyz, in the Swiss Alps.
I've explained many times over the years why we have our chocolate made in Switzerland and I won't have the space to rehash it all here.
Suffice it to say that for a very long time most of our business was in Europe and also, we believe that Felchlin is the finest chocolate maker in the world.
Our team in Peru, which is managed by my brother Brian, buys cacao wet off of trees and does all of the post-harvest processing in our centralized facility out in campo.
We ship the cacao out of the jungle on a 20–30-hour truck ride, through the Andes mountains, and down the northern Peruvian coast to Lima.
In Lima, the cacao is loaded on a cargo boat and sent through the Panama Canal, across the Atlantic, through the English Channel, and finally on to the Port of Rotterdam in The Netherlands.
From The Netherlands, the cacao heads south on a river barge and then by truck to Schwyz.
Once the chocolate is made for us, it usually ships out of Belgium from Antwerp, comes west back across the Atlantic, and we bring it in through the port of Houston.
Then it comes on a truck from Houston to Washington state where we have our operation in Issaquah, about 20 minutes east of Seattle.
We've tried to bring in cacao and chocolate through ports on the west coast of the United States, Long Beach, Oakland, and Seattle, but frankly, they aren't well run.
There are always delays and hassles and we have to spend extra money on storage fees and unnecessary inspections.
The Port of Houston is an A+ port in our opinion.
Felchlin doesn't like to make sugar free chocolate because it is too hard to clean the flavor residue out of their machines afterwards. They charge an exorbitant cleaning fee, and it blows up the end price of our product.
So, we had to go looking for a different option.
We have a long-time industry friend in Utah who owns a small and excellent chocolate company. The company is called Amano if you want to check them out.
To make our sugar free chocolate, we bring a container of cacao to the United States. This always ends up being a real hassle, and we are going to look for a better way in the future. But this is the current process.
We bring a container of cacao into the port of Oakland, and we know in advance that there will be some kind of ridiculous hold up.
We go through Oakland because there is a huge cacao warehouse near the port, in Hayward, where we can store our cacao for a week while we arrange shipping. We can't arrange shipping in advance because we never know how long it will take to clear customs.
It's bizarre, but you can't ship a container of cacao straight up the west coast from Peru to the United States. All boats route through the Panama Canal.
In the Panama Canal, our container is taken off a boat due east towards the Atlantic and put on a boat coming in the other direction, due west and then north.
After the container clears the port of Oakland, we ship it to Utah, where our friend makes untempered cacao mass for us.
We do it this way, because it is cheaper for us to do the tempering ourselves, albeit inefficient.
Untempered cacao mass has been through the entire chocolate making process. Amano roasts, winnows, grinds, and conches the cacao.
Normally, you'd add sugar to cacao after it has been ground and is in its liquid state, and then you'd move on to conching, tempering, and molding.
In the case of our untempered cacao mass, we don't add any sweeteners, sugar or otherwise, and we don't have it tempered or molded.
What you end up with is a very unique ingredient that you don't find too many other places. It is 100% pure cacao that has all the nutritional benefits of cacao nibs but is more versatile.
It has been through the chocolate making process, so it melts, which is not the case with cacao nibs.
This makes it very good to use in baking.
You can also make a very dark, sugar free hot chocolate with it, which you can sweeten with any sweetener you desire.
You can melt it and dip fruit in it.
Or if you are the adventurous type, you can look up tempering and temper it at home to make your own sugar free chocolate bars.
One of our customers likes to melt the untempered cacao mass into hibiscus tea. He brought me a sample of that, and it was delicious.
More and more studies are showing that consistent cacao consumption has a strong correlation with lifespan. This is because cacao is one of the most heart friendly foods on the planet.
In the United States, heart disease is still the leading cause of death. Keeping your ticker strong is a good strategy for living longer.
Cacao has ten times the antioxidants of blueberries, which means it reduces free radicals in your blood.
It is high in a whole bunch of minerals that are hard to find elsewhere: magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese.
In particular, cacao has more magnesium than just about any other food.
Cacao is high in protein as well.
You may have read lately that many dark chocolates are testing high in heavy metals. This is because cacao is super efficient at utilizing whatever materials are in the soil.
The same mechanism that causes some cacao to be high in toxic heavy metals is also what makes other cacao, cacao grown in healthy soil, highly nutritious.
You can see our heavy metal testing results by clicking here.
Ok, that was a lot of information. Thank you for bearing with me.
I wanted to give you plenty of detail because most of the products we buy appear to be available as if by magic.
It is easy to forget that every single dang product that we use or consume requires a lot of energy, planning, and effort to produce.
Recognizing the hard work that goes into products increases gratitude, and I'd argue that gratitude is one of the key drivers of happiness.
If you'd like to pick up a bag of our untempered cacao mass, simply click the first link down below.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
Click here for wonderful chocolate made with pure Nacional cacao.
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