Once a Marine Biologist, now a Craft Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Maker

Once a Marine Biologist, now a Craft Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Maker

Mike Orlando started Twenty-Four Blackbirds in 2010 as a side job. At the time, he was working as a Marine biologist and chemist in Santa Barbara, California.

He originally made chocolate in his free time; an enthusiast, utilizing his degrees. As a scientist, Mike truly enjoys processes, parameters, problems and triumphs. Even today, he experiments with new ideas and means for making even better chocolate.

He is a true purist, though - and organic cacao beans and sugar are all he uses. He begins with high quality cocoa beans – delivered raw from estates, plantations and co-ops worldwide. These are hand sorted; the best selected, and the rest discarded.

Beans are then spread onto trays for roasting. After cooling, they are coarsely crushed to loosen shell from nib. Passing air currents whisk lighter shells away. The clean nibs are then collected and refined with sugar. This smooths out the texture & develops the flavor.  

But true quality takes time. Finished chocolate is often left to age for 2- 8 weeks. Flavors settle throughout, and bars are carefully monitored for flavor change.

The last step is molding. After the bars cool, the chocolate is de-molded and inspected for defects and weight. The bars are then hand wrapped in-house printed wrappers, and sent to you. 

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