Actually, no. Chocolate is not an easy sell. If we had a penny for every time someone said this, boy would we have so much more chocolate equipment! It has been quite the process to be where we are today, and we are still currently not at the place where we dream to be.
You are probably aware that making chocolate is quite the process. We start from the cacao seeds which we roast, winnow (get rid of shells), and grind in our stone grinders. Sounds easy enough if you don't know much about chocolate, but it is quite the process. Especially, when you specialize in making dark chocolate, a chocolate that a lot of people are not accustomed to. Convincing a customer to buy your chocolate when you're just starting up your business also becomes quite the process.
Not An Easy Sell
When we first opened our shop we would get people specifically looking for Junk Chocolate. Junk Chocolate is what we call chocolate with a lot of ingredients and nothing really good in it. Usually, referred to as “candy bars” which include some milk chocolate, white chocolate and literally the very sweet stuff that contain mostly sugar and of course other junk ingredients. Not to say candy is bad (it’s soooo bad), but we’re trying to focus on chocolate here. Candy is literally just that, candy. It’s not a food like dark chocolate where you get a good source of magnesium, zinc and iron among other things. Candy’s a good source for sugar and high fructose corn syrup if you’re into that. Everyday since we opened shop up to this day we tell people the process and the ingredients that go into our chocolate. Most people do not know where chocolate comes from, are intrigued by the whole process and end up purchasing our products, other times people are intrigued but make it clear dark chocolate is not their thing. Dark chocolate is an acquired taste and as a society we are not accustomed to it. As kids we grow up eating candy, the reward you get for eating all your food as a child is not dark chocolate, it's usually something very sweet like ice cream or candy.
High Cacao Content
Then there is the pricing that goes into our chocolate. We price our chocolate based on the amount of cacao not on the amount of labor that goes into it. Sometimes we get people looking for the best deal, forget about the benefits of dark chocolate and the craft of making chocolate, we get people saying things like, "$6 for a bar!" I mean, I guess it's not enough that we are particular of where we source our cacao (usually at its point of origination), or that we purchase cacao beans directly from the farms, not even when we ensure our cacao is ethically sourced, or that we actually invest in all the chocolate equipment that we need to make quality chocolate, or even that our cacao percentage is pretty high and do not add any fillers to our chocolate. You know, meaningless stuff. We can tell a person all this and more and it is still not enough for some. We are a society used to Hershey’s candy, the six biggest chocolate company in the world. Milton Hershey himself started off making dark chocolate at a time where people weren’t ready for it, it was too expensive for people and then he invented and introduced his milk chocolate bar and that did well. Are we still not ready for dark chocolate? I think we should be at this point in advance as a society. Once El Buen Cacao becomes a big dark chocolate empire we will not know. In the meantime, we will continue to do what we do best. We are very conscious of how we make our chocolate and make sure all of our ingredients are the best. It is easy to make chocolate with cocoa powder or just melt down any chocolate and add filler ingredients, but it's another thing when you're making a good quality chocolate from the seeds using minimal but whole and organic ingredients while at the same ensuring your cacao beans aren’t coming from slave labor.
It's All A Process
There are a lot of details that go into making chocolate, but in the large-scale of the trade it is so much more than just making chocolate. The logistics of it involve so many details such as, manufacturing, packaging, organic processing, online, wholesale distribution, retail to name a few. There is a lot that goes into the organization of having a chocolate business that in all honesty can be very exhausting. The selling of our chocolates vary from time to time, the hours that we put into making our chocolate also vary, yet we're frequently making chocolate. The hours that go into making chocolate doesn't include the hours we put in when we're at our shop, and all the other logistics that go into the business.
If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It
We are not quite where we dream to be, but we are slowly but surely getting there one baby step at a time. It's a LOT of work. Sure, chocolate is an easy sell...if you stuff it with tons of sugar, throw in some milk, and maybe add some GMOs for added experience. True dark chocolate however doesn't have to have all those unnecessary ingredients, you reap the benefits and possibly keep the doctor away. We started from home buying 5 lbs. of beans maybe even less than that just making test batches, at that time we were not selling. When we opened our shop we started buying 70 kg., that's about 150 pounds, of cacao sacks at a time, then we started the bigger purchases which required us buying half a ton of beans at a time. Nowadays, we’re buying beans by the ton and we still remember our talks when we couldn't even imagine buying that many beans. Such an idea at the time could not be fathom, but then again we can't imagine purchasing 3 tons of beans a month. One day we'll be staring at our large chocolate empire and say, "We made it! People actually love good chocolate." We certainly believe it to be possible, and in the words of Walt Disney "If you can dream it, you can do it."