Bean-to-Bar (BTB) means that all the process of making the chocolate happens in-house. From sorting, to roasting, to cracking, all the way to moulding, the entire BTB process happens inside one facility with one person or a small group of people. The efficiency of the system even includes the farms where the BTB companies get their beans from. It can be assumed that such a tight system makes it easy to produce chocolate that is said to rival with any other chocolate on the market.
Usually, the big names of chocolate buy different qualities or grades of cacao beans to save money, and that creates a challenge when it is time to transform them into chocolate because each type requires a different way of handling. However, since companies want to save on the costs of production, they feel the need to add extra ingredients to make all the beans blend perfectly, as well as systematizing every step of the process. The result: almost all chocolate bars on the market taste the same. In addition, some companies can't even list cacao beans as their main ingredient as we would expect, because some of them use either cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. Yes, those two ingredients come from cacao beans, but since their production is outsourced, these chocolatiers can't speak for their quality or integrity. Arguably, BTB chocolate is more authentic than regular chocolate.
How Did It All Start?
It started with chocolate maker Rob Anderson's experiments and tests on different techniques to transform cacao beans into chocolate. He said that if one of the steps in the process is modified, it affects the taste of the final product. Anderson discovered three different ways to roast the cacao beans (light, medium, and dark) and conches chocolate in four unique ways to create the bars (none, subtle, medium, and long). Anderson also built most of the machines he uses in chocolate making.
Today, after being around for 12 years, the unique process has grown so much that some of the pioneers of the BTB chocolate making have made available for purchase the equipment necessary for anyone interested in starting their own BTB company or making their own chocolate at home from scratch. As of today, we can count about 200 BTB chocolatiers around the world with 187 of them being in United States.
How To Identify BTB Chocolate
The answer: trust the taste buds.
BTB companies produce smaller batches of chocolate and they tend to be expensive.