As mentioned in A Visit to the Chocolate Museum (Part 1), as you enter the chocolate museum in Cologne, you are right away treated a small piece of Lindt chocolate, which is produced on premises.
This production unit of the museum is my favorite part, and I will now take you with me through it, step by step.
- Preparation of the cocoa: Once the cocoa beans are fermented and dried, they are put into containers and shipped to production facilities all over the world.
Did you know which country produces the most chocolate goods? Yes, it's the US with more than 1.5 million tons. But guess who's next- Germany! With nearly a million tons per year. France, Belgium and Switzerland are only on place four, six and twelve (that means China produces more chocolate than Switzerland!). I digress.
Roasting: The cacao beans arrive and are cleaned, then roasted. The half hour heat treatment intensifies the taste and is per chocolate manufacturer one of the best kept trade secrets. We've tested a long time until we decided that Callebaut, a famous Belgian chocolate company, meets our high standards.
Crushing: A machine now carefully separates the husk form the coca beans. The husks can be reused, for example as tea. Have you ever tried any?
Grinding: A mill grinds the shelled beans. In the process, heat develops, which melts the ground beans into a beautiful, liquid chocolate mass.
Mixing: The other ingredients are added to the chocolate: sugar, milk powder (for milk chocolate), lecithin (a soy bean extract that improves consistency and fluidity of chocolate) and in some cases, vanilla.
Video: The chocolate is ground and mixed with other ingredients that together make chocolate
- Rolling: Since chocolateurs are perfectionist, the chocolate is again rolled in several cooled roller mills, each with a smaller distance between the rolls. In this step, the chocolate obtains a very fine and blended consistency.
- Conching: My favorite step in the chocolate production process. Developed by Lindt and in my eyes the reason for its success, the conche just seems to move around the chocolate, stirring it happily. In the process though it is heated up, which reduces moisture levels and helps develop desired flavors. Since this is a slow process, low quality chocolate doesn't spend a lot of time in the conche, while high quality chocolate (like ours!) considers the conche its vacation home.
Video: The conche
In the case of chocri, the chocolate is now cooled down, formed to big blocks and transported to our facility in Berlin. It is here that the chocolate is further processed by hand. For now, let's follow the museum production though:
Tempering: Here, the chocolate goes through a rollercoaster of temperatures - high - cool - high. This ensures that it doesn't "bloom" as the expert says (have you ever seen the white film on chocolate that got too hot?). We have perfected this in Berlin, which took a while and which we are very proud of.
Forming: The warm liquid chocolate mass is poured by an impressive automated machine into synthetic moulds. They are vibrated to release any potential air bubbles, and then cooled down. The moulds are turned over and the chocolate pieces are knocked out onto a conveyer belt.
Wrapping: Definitely the biggest action at this machine: After a roboter carefully picks the chocolate bars up and the one (!) person controlling all of the machinery makes sure that all the little bars look pretty. They are then lined up and wrapped so quickly that all I could see was "unwrapped - wrapped. unwrapped - wrapped." Then they all fall into a box which is regularly brought to the entrance of the museum where people like me get one of them.
Video: The wrapper machine