“Bean to bar”, the phenomenon that melts the chocolate planet

From the cottage located at the end of a rocky garden emanates a lightly chocolatey roasting odor. We are in the Gard, halfway between Avignon and Nîmes. Eric Comte has spent a large part of his days in his laboratory, barely larger than a fitting room. He chooses by hand cocoa beans that have arrived from Ecuador, supervises the oven where these amber nuggets are heated at low temperature, an essential phase of his new activity. He observes, he smells, he tastes. The Gardois is one of these new protagonists determined to create a new impetus in the world of chocolate. Its credo: quality and transparency at all stages, a speech totally inspired by bean to bar (from the bean to the bar).

Still little known in France, this movement is already widespread in the United States since the beginning of the 2000s, and is carving out a good place in Canada as in the United Kingdom. Literally, it is about making chocolate by selecting the cocoa bean directly from the growers, in order to control the entire production process. An evidence ? Not that much. “In France, a very large majority of chocolatiers do not work with the bean, they use what is called couverture chocolate, which has already been processed. In reality, we should rather call them confectioners ”, says Laurent Meudic, follower of slow-food.

In his former delicatessen La Balade gourmande in Tours, he was one of the first in France to put down shelves bean to bar on shelves, at around 10 euros a piece, ten years ago. Today, he maintains a map entitled “Chocolate: Did you know” (on Facebook) to identify the country’s “bean to bar”: “There are still two or three years, it was easy to go with the flow. Today, not a week goes by without hearing from a newcomer. “ He numbered 80 manufacturers, and again, he took some largesse with the initial spirit of the movement, by integrating manufacturers. He assumes. “I cannot go and check their selection at the plantation, but one thing is certain, these are companies that process the beans themselves. In the end, they are not numerous, a shame in the land of gastronomy. “

For Chloé Doutre-Roussel, world-renowned expert who divides her life between France and Venezuela, the bar bean would be to chocolate what natural wine is to wine-growing circles. An approach that respects the earth and the environment as much as producers and consumers. Everything traceable from planting to shelf. Not the type to use the tongue of wood, the one who is today considered as the greatest connoisseur of beans and grand cru chocolate even speaks of a philosophy. Adopt the bean to bar, “It is to engage in a process of truth, to return to the simplicity, to the purity of the bean to reveal delicate aromas”.

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