An interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate
We asked Hans of Violet Sky Chocolate to tell us about himself and this is what he had to say:
"I am Hans Westerink, I make chocolate in South Bend, IN. I started making chocolate three years ago because I love real flavors, and I wanted to show people what real chocolate can taste like. It took a year of learning at home, with help from Chocolate Alchemy, to get started. Opening people's eyes to the uniqueness of flavor as well as building connections in local and global communities are the favorite parts of my job.
Chocolate should not be a commodity and it does not all taste the same. Chocolate is very common, but most of what exists is boring and over processed. Our entire food culture has become a disconnected thing. No one knows or cares what is in their food or where it comes from. Chefs, chocolate makers, and small farmers can all work together to reconnect people to their food. It is important because eating is possibly the most personal thing. What we consume becomes us; it is in every cell of our bodies, and we will pass that on to our children too.
Bean-to-bar chocolate is important to me because I am able have a deeper understanding of the chocolate. Sourcing beans creates connections across the globe that will lead to better quality chocolate and a better world for everyone. Cacao should not come from places where workers are mistreated, underpaid or not paid. It's nice to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate without wondering if anyone suffered to produce that chocolate.
The process for bean-to-bar chocolate is simple. I roast cacao on a coffee roaster. Each bean has a different profile to bring out the flavors that I like. I roast beans faster and lighter than many makers as this maintains more acidity and also more distinct flavors. Then, I remove the husks (winnowing). Thereafter, I grind the nibs with sugar in a melanger for 3 to 4 days. Other machines can be used to speed up production but streamlining production is not a goal of mine. Finally, the chocolate goes into a tempering machine to create the correct fat crystal formations, before being poured into moulds and wrapped."