Who started the bean to bar trend?

8 Jan 2021

Chocolate Knowledge

Bean to Bar chocolate is pretty big at the moment. Even if you haven’t tried it yet, you’ve probably heard of it, right? Well, if you want to have a taste of the burgeoning trend, you’re in the right place.

We like to think that we know a thing or two about chocolate! In fact, we’ve even gone a step further with our “Roots to Wrapper” philosophy. This refers to our dedicated and hands-on approach to producing and creating chocolate. From humble cocoa bean to a deliciously wrapped treat, let’s delve into the world of chocolate.

The Bean to Bar trend is quite similar to our Roots to Wrapper version, albeit not quite so extensive. We directly grow some of our cocoa beans on our plantation in St Lucia, so our chocolate knowledge is wide-ranging. We offer Bean to Bar experiences at our Schools of Chocolate which allow guests to experience this sort of chocolate-making first hand. During these events, guests delve into the Bean to Bar world and even make their very own chocolate bar! It’s a dream come true for any aspiring Willy Wonkas, or simply anyone who loves good chocolate.

However, if you want a quick low-down on the Bean to Bar trend, this blog post should suffice. Read on to learn more about the trend, our Roots to Wrapper philosophy, and why this sort of chocolate is great for everyone involved…

What is bean to bar chocolate?

Quite simply, the phrase “Bean to Bar” denotes a way of making chocolate. It involves the chocolate maker overseeing every step – from the raw cocoa bean to the finished chocolate bar. This includes buying the beans, grinding them, roasting them, refining them and so on. The result? A delicious chocolate bar with no hidden nasties.

empty cocoa shells after making bean to bar chocolate

In contrast to mass-produced chocolate, most Bean to Bar chocolatiers make small batches of high quality chocolate. This means the ingredients are more natural, resulting in a healthier chocolate. For example, Bean to Bar chocolate usually contains less sugar and fewer artificial flavours. These artesanal chocolate makers often do their best to ensure that their cocoa beans come from ethical sources as well. This hopes to avoid the exploitation of cocoa farmers – a practice which is rife in the cocoa production industry.

Bean to bar chocolate has really taken off in the UK and this is probably due to two factors. First, British people’s love of chocolate and, secondly their growing ethical conscience. Tasty chocolate doesn’t cut it anymore – Brits want delicious chocolate that is also ethical and sustainable. Fortunately for everyone, we always produce chocolate lovingly and ethically, and so do many other bean to bar chocolate makers.

Why are chocolatiers not bean to bar chocolate makers?

Chocolatiers work with ready-made chocolate, whilst Bean to Bar chocolate makers make the chocolate themselves. Luckily for you, we’re home to great chocolate makers and great chocolatiers. They work in different stages of the chocolate-making process to bring you the most delicious treats possible.

Our chocolate-makers focus on the product itself, creating satisfying chocolate that contains more cocoa, richer flavours and less sugar. If you want to explore some of their work in its purest form, try some of our batons, such as our 70% Dark Chocolate Batons. Solid batons of our high-cocoa chocolate, these allow you to experience tasting notes of all of our chocolate grades that our makers have perfected.

Hotel Chocolat 70% dark chocolate batons

Our team of skilled chocolatiers then take this chocolate and work their magic on it to bring you new and revolutionary flavours, fillings, and shapes. Try any of our inventive H-Boxes or Sleeksters to experience some of their finest and most beloved work. You’ll only need to take one bite to realise how talented they are.

Who started making bean to bar chocolate?

Chocolate-makers have been turning cocoa beans into delicious chocolate for hundreds of years. However, the Bean to Bar trend as we know it started in California in 1997 with the launch of Scharfeen Berger. This was a line of chocolate that the Artisan Confectionery Company (which the Hershey Company owns) made. Since then, the trend has exploded and you can now find Bean to Bar chocolate all over the US, the UK, and the world.

Our philosophy: from Roots to Wrapper

We think the Bean to Bar trend is a great sign that consumers are becoming more mindful about where their chocolate comes from, what’s going in it, and who made it. All these things are hugely important to us, and our Roots to Wrapper philosophy goes even further.

We’re one of the few chocolatier companies in the world that grows their own chocolate, meaning we accompany our chocolate on every step of its journey. From lovingly growing some of the cocoa plants themselves to carefully packaging the finished chocolate, we’re there every step of the way.

View of St Lucia, where Hotel Chocolat make bean to bar chocolate

Choosing to grow our own chocolate was a unique decision that has allowed us to create a deep connection between our customers and our chocolate, as well as ensuring that every piece of confectionery we produce is of the very best standard possible.

The Rabot Estate

We chose to buy our estate – the Rabot Estate – in Saint Lucia because the cocoa beans there are of exceptional quality and the climate is ideal. We make sure to uphold this quality throughout the chocolate-making process. That means cutting no corners and including no substandard ingredients. Our mantra has always been “more cocoa, less sugar”, and we ensure this by packing our chocolate with cocoa and including far less sugar than other companies. The end result? Chocolate that’s always smooth, rich and never too sweet – full of enriching cocoa instead of empty calories.

However, our Roots to Wrapper philosophy isn’t just great for your tastebuds, it’s also great for cocoa farmers on our estate and around the world who can join our Cocoa Programme. Through it, they can gain advice and technical assistance, as well as a guaranteed market for their crops at a price that is above those of the world market. Furthermore, we strive to make our business planet-positive. We’ve pledged to make 100% of our packaging compostable, recyclable, or reusable in 2021 and we’re already 90% of the way there! Sustainable to the very last delicious bite.

Experience Bean to Bar chocolate yourself

If Bean to Bar chocolate has piqued your interest, why not experience the process yourself? Created with chocolate lovers in mind, we offer Bean to Bar Experiences that allow guests to delve deep into the world of chocolate-making. During the experience, you’ll learn about chocolate, get to sample plenty of it, and finally get to make their very own bar of the good stuff. The experiences are available at our Schools of Chocolate in Leeds and London, so your nearest one shouldn’t be too far away. Bookings are available for up to 28 guests, so they’re perfect for corporate events or parties.

A ticket to one of these experiences would also make the perfect present for that hard-to-buy-for loved one, so you may like to take a look at our gift cards. After taking part in this experience, we’re sure that you (or your recipient) will have a new appreciation for the art of chocolate-making and the Bean to Bar trend.