Crafting Chocolate

Small batch American craft chocolate is on the rise, offering a new approach to chocolate making. Starting with the cacao, we import, roast, winnow, & stone-grind quality beans into luscious chocolate.  We then transform our chocolate into delectable delights you can trust.

Step 1: Source

each new farm's beans are inspected and tested to ensure quality and excellence of flavor.

each new farm’s beans are inspected and tested to ensure quality and excellence of flavor.

Our Beans: We specialize in crafting chocolate from rare, highly prized cocoa beans grown in the rich soil of the best farms in the world. These beans offer diverse flavors lacking the characteristic bitterness thought normal to chocolate now. In addition, we only source beans which are sustainably sourced or organic as well as fairly traded, or certified to offer fair wages to workers.

 

 

 

 

Madagascar vanilla beans, cinnamon, and ancho chili powder are a couple ingredients found in our spicy Aztec chocolates.

Madagascar vanilla beans, cinnamon, and ancho chili powder are a couple ingredients found in our spicy Aztec chocolates.

Our Ingredients: we wouldn’t dare to pair the world’s best cocoa beans with low quality ingredients. We only use pure, real foods. No extracts, no fillers. We source organic when possible. We only use organic sweetners such as organic raw cane sugar, medjool dates, raw honey, or real maple syrup; never chemical sweetners or high fructose anything. And because we value transparency in manufacturing, we are forthright in what is and is not in our chocolates.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Roast

Roasting BeansA careful roasting profile is set to remove the natural fermentation that occurs from drying and to coax out the bean’s individual flavor profiles without burning. Too little roasting and the chocolate tastes a little sour and “green” (like a grassy flavor). Too much roasting and it burns the beans, killing the delicate flavor nuances common to high quality cacao.

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Winnow

From left to right: cacao husks, cacao "nibs" in a bowl, and the whole un-winnowed cacao beans.

From left to right: cacao husks, cacao “nibs” in a bowl, and the whole pre-winnowed cacao beans.

Handmade machinery by owner Carl removes the delicate husks from the precious cacao nibs inside using a series of vacuum suction pipes. The nibs are what the chocolate is made of. Packed with antioxidant, flavanoids, and nutrients, cacao nibs are great over oatmeal, in smoothies, on a meat and cheese plate, over fruit, or just munching by the handful. We don’t like waste, so the husks get re-purposed into landscaping mulch.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Stone-Grind

Stone Ground ChocolateTaking a minimum of 48 hours per batch, the cacao is stone-ground to remove excess moisture, develop flavor, and reduce the particle size to a silky mouthfeel. Called a melanger, this piece of equipment has a granite base and granite wheels. It will stone-grind 60 pounds of chocolate at a time. Come in our Lynchburg store sometime and take a peak. You just might get to see the chocolate grinding!

 

 

 

 

Step 5: Temper & Mold

All of our bars are masterfully crafted and hand molded in polycarbonate molds.

All of our bars are masterfully crafted and hand molded in polycarbonate molds.

If you’ve ever had chocolate melt and cool, you may have noticed funny white patterns in it. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. These fun patterns are the cocoa butter creating crystal structures on its own. This is called “cocoa bloom”. To prevent cocoa bloom, though pretty – also means gritty, tempering is a process that gets the cocoa butter to form “level five” crystal structures which is the perfect look and mouthfeel! The cocoa butter within the chocolate requires precise heating, cooling, and agitation to create that beautiful sheen and crisp snap of a fine chocolate bar. Once perfected, it is ready to mold into bars or dip a truffle in.

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Savor! 

Savor Altus Chocolate! Close your eyes, block out the world, and savor the subtle nuances of bean-to-bar chocolate.