What is Bean to Bar chocolate?

27 Jun 2022

Chocolate Knowledge

Want to get to know your chocolate? Learn about Bean to Bar and Roots to Wrapper…

If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to know exactly where your food comes from and how it’s made. In our opinion, this is particularly important when it comes to chocolate. And this is why we focus on creating Bean to Bar chocolate.

The chocolate industry faces a number of issues. For instance, fair pay and working conditions for farmers, environmental impact, and variation in cacao quality to name just a few. 

The “Bean to Bar” way of making chocolate involves the chocolate maker overseeing every step of the production process. They ensure the ethics, sustainability, and quality of the finished product are up to scratch — not to mention the taste.

It’s a great way for chocolate makers to take responsibility for everything they do within their business. Plus, it’s useful for consumers too, as they’re able to learn more about their chocolate’s journey. 

Cacao pod and beans

Bean to Bar chocolate explained

You’ll find a few different definitions of Bean to Bar chocolate out there. But here are the general facts you need to know about the term.

Every chocolate product is technically “Bean to Bar” (as in it starts off as a cacao bean!) However, chocolate makers use the term to denote a specific way of making chocolate.

Though Bean to Bar is accepted as a general trade model in the UK, there is no official definition.

This means that you’ll need to explore each brand’s interpretation of Bean to Bar chocolate to understand what this really means for their practices.

This is how we define Bean to Bar chocolate here at Hotel Chocolat

Every step of the way

It’s often a well-kept secret, but some chocolatiers aren’t involved with the entire chocolate-making process. However, an explicitly labelled “Bean to Bar” product tells us that the chocolate maker was directly involved in overseeing every step of the creation process.

From purchasing the raw cacao beans to sealing the finished chocolate bar — they’re responsible for it all. From selecting the cacao farms and working with the cacao farmers to grinding, roasting, and refining the beans, Bean to Bar chocolatiers are, quite literally, hands-on.

Outsourcing in the cacao industry

When talking about Bean to Bar, it’s helpful to think of the in-house vs. outsourced distinction.

A lot can be outsourced during chocolate production — some chocolatiers even buy ready-made chocolate from other manufacturers and melt it down to create their own branded products (though they don’t like advertising this).

Bean to Bar chocolate requires a little more dedication. It’s always easy to take short-cuts — but where’s the passion in that? When you buy Bean to Bar chocolate, you’ll know that buckets of care, attention, and expertise has gone into every scrumptious bite.

Man in hat picking cacao fruit

The benefits of Bean to Bar chocolate

If a chocolatier operates on a Bean to Bar model, this is a good indication that they care about the quality and sustainability of their products — as well as transparency for their customers.

With Bean to Bar chocolate, every step, process, and source is documented and traceable. Production practices and employee welfare are at the core of these chocolate companies, which helps to ensure a high standard across the board.

Our Roots to Wrapper philosophy

At Hotel Chocolat, we have a lot of appreciation for the Bean to Bar model. However, we’ve always wanted to take things one step further.

We all know actions speak louder than words, so we invented our own way of working in the chocolate industry — a Roots to Wrapper approach. Since 2005, we’ve not just been chocolate makers, we’ve been chocolate growers as well.

Our very own cacao farm, Rabot Estate, in Saint Lucia has given us the opportunity to refine our Ethical Business and learn more about the journey of the cacao bean and sustainable farming methods.

We can confidently say that our cacao is 100% ethical — a claim that not many chocolatiers can make. Learn more about our cacao farm and how we grow our cacao.

Beyond Rabot Estate

While we grow some of our cacao at our Rabot Estate, we also work with farmers around the world. Our experience as a cacao farm has given us critical insider knowledge. It’s shown us how to work with these farms in a completely ethical and sustainable way.

We always work in a way that adheres to the principles of our Engaged Ethics programme and the four pillars of our Cacao Sustainability Charter:

  • Knowing our farmers.
  • Prosperity (raising incomes, providing educational opportunities).
  • Community (supporting the health and education of our farming communities).
  • Environment (ensuring zero deforestation while incentivising biodiversity and tree planting).

So much goes into our ethical business that we’ve barely scratched the surface in this article. To learn more about our practices here at Hotel Chocolat, read all about our cacao world, gentle farming, and our Planet Pledge.

Bean to Bar experiences

If you’re interested in learning more about the world of chocolate from our skilled chocolatiers, take a look at our 90-minute Bean to Bar experiences in Covent Garden, London.

You’ll learn all about making chocolate, watch how tempering perfects chocolate, and make your very own chocolate bar. You’ll also get to enjoy a glass of Prosecco as you create your masterpiece and take home a goody bag.

Book your experience today.

Project Chocolat — Saint Lucia

If you’d like to see our Roots to Wrapper philosophy in action and fancy adventuring to sunny Saint Lucia, you can visit our beautiful Rabot Estate.

Stay in our Rabot Hotel. It features 25 eco-lodges, an open-air restaurant, bar, and spa set in a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can take part in an immersive chocolate experience — Project Chocolat, where you’ll learn how to graft a tree, hand-craft your own chocolate bar, and enjoy irresistible cacao cuisine.

The tropical island of Saint Lucia: Piton Mountains, palm trees, and rainforest

See you soon

We hope you enjoyed learning about Bean to Bar and Roots to Wrapper chocolate. Joining us for a Bean to Bar or Project Chocolat experience? We look forward to meeting you soon!