Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Amano Chocolate
Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Orem, Utah
Website: Amano Chocolate
Date Established: 2006
Ingredients Used: 4 - Cacao Beans, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Vanilla
Allergy Information: Made in a plant that processes milk on antique equipment that may have been used to process tree nuts and soy
It was more than ten years ago when Art Pollard realized that the chocolate familiar to most Americans fell well short of the little bean’s full potential. Thus began his search for the "ultimate chocolate." A scientist by training, Art pored through chocolate books both ancient and modern. He visited cocoa plantations in Mexico and other cocoa-growing regions as well as manufacturing plants in Europe. He experimented with the tools of the chocolatier’s art, tinkering in his garage with traditional chocolate-making equipment. Over time, he perfected his technique and developed his own chocolate methodology which is focused exclusively on quality.
Produced in tiny batches from the finest hand-selected cacao on the planet, Art chose the Rocky Mountain town of Orem, Utah, for his new chocolate factory, believing that the town’s high altitude and dry climate would have a beneficial effect on the product. Situated at the foot of Utah’s Wasatch range—4,441 feet (1,454 meters) above sea level—Amano is one of the highest-altitude chocolate manufacturers in the world.
Quality Begins In the Bean
The same way that great wine begins in the vineyard, superior chocolate begins in the bean. Amano’s founder works with cacao farmers to improve their growing, fermenting and drying techniques, and to be careful stewards of the land. In exchange for meeting Amano’s exacting standards, local farmers receive three to four times the going market price—well above the so-called “fair trade” price.
According to Art, “Amano always pays farmers and co-ops significantly more for their product than is set by the ‘fair trade’ organizations. It is a very costly and lengthy process for a farmer to become fair-trade certified, and most simply can’t afford it. We believe in paying a premium price for premium cocoa beans—typically three to four times the London Cocoa Terminal Market price. This ensures that we obtain the highest quality beans available and that the farmers we buy from can provide for their families. We don't pay the prices we pay to get a label on our package. We do it because it is the right thing to do.”
The percentage of cacao solids in chocolate measures how much of the chocolate is actually made from cocoa bean, whether in the form of chocolate liquor (ground cocoa bean) or cocoa butter (made by pressing the fat out of the ground cocoa bean).
Some manufacturers add cocoa powder, which Amano never does, as this dilutes the flavor. The remaining content is typically comprised of sugar and vanilla to help round out the flavor. As a rule, the higher the cacao percentage, the richer and less sweet the chocolate. The cacao content of chocolate is not necessarily a reflection of quality. Says Art, “The best chocolate is the chocolate that you enjoy the most.”