Foodstuffs: Chocolate is a 'Bean-to-Bar' Experience for Exeter Chocolate Maker
EnnaGrazier'skitchen is a lot like a normal home kitchen, except she's got a few things most people don't have at home: a commercial food production license, and countertop-sized tools that turn cocoa beans into carefully crafted chocolate bars.
There you'll find, among other gadgets, machines that look like they belong in a chemist's lab.
"This is my winnower," she says. "It’s a kind of MacGyvered contraption of a shop vac, a piece off of a Champion juicer, some PVC parts... and a bucket."
The winnower sorts out the edible parts of cacao beans, called nibs, by vacuuming up the lighter, inedible bits of the bean. "And as it’s falling in here, the nibs are coming out here," Grazier says, pointing to a tube leading into a bucket.
It's a long way from here to the finished product, which is a shiny, gorgeously-wrapped bar of what is simply called Enna Chocolate.
"It’s a little piece of Enna with each batch, with each bite," she says.
On this day, she’s grinding beans from Honduras, but she has also worked with beans from Madagascar and Uganda, and Tanzania, to name a few.
"It’s a very complex process, but it's not so complex," she says. "You have one ingredient that’s been very carefully grown and cared for from start to finish that's going to result in a final ingredient, which is the chocolate."
Unlike the chocolate you might find at your grocery store, Enna’s bean-to-bar chocolate has only two ingredients: cacao beans and organic cane sugar.
Grazier never planned to become a chocolate maker. In college she studied anthropology and photography. But she’s always loved chocolate. She says, in a lot of ways, chocolate-making really isn’t so different.
"I want to know about the human experience," she says. "I’m looking at the economy of where it’s from and how it's grown... It's like I fell down this rabbit hole of exploring how it's made and what the flavor potentials are."
Those flavor potentials can give away the chocolate maker's roasting style. Chocolate makers all develop their own roasting style according to their own preferences. "You can tell this person prefers a lighter roast or this person is over roasting, or this person doesn’t mind the gritty quality," she says.
In this way, chocolate making is a creative act. This one, however, can be expensive.
"These bars are $12 each. One batch takes 50 hours of work, and it’s impossible for me to sell it for less than $12," she says. "Even that is kind of painful."
But from Grazier’s perspective, her chocolate is sort of like a bottle of wine. It’s expensive, but it’s an experience meant to be savored and shared with others.
Grazier compares chocolate's lack of availability and diversity to buying apples at the grocery store. "Really in the world of apples there's a world of flavors and genetic variety, and cocoa's the same way. Every seed will produce a new tree with different flavor potential. What we're doing is exploring these less known varieties that are cultivated and cared for in a very special way."
At the end of the day, Grazier hopes her chocolate will open the door for people to discover the rich flavor and diversity of chocolate.