Wait, isn’t anyone who makes any type of chocolate a “chocolate maker”?
If you read almost any article published by a mainstream news media outlet, the terms chocolatier and chocolate maker are thrown around pretty loosely. This probably leaves people confused – isn’t everyone who makes chocolate of any kind a “chocolate maker”? Then what is a chocolatier? What IS the difference?
These two professions actually have very different knowledge and skill sets.
Chocolate makers make chocolate from dried cacao beans using specific equipment such as a roaster, grinder, refiner mill, conch and tempering machine. Their finished product is pure chocolate – usually in bar form.
Chocolatiers source and blend that pure chocolate, made by the chocolate maker(s), for specific properties and flavor profiles, and then use it to create recipes for their own unique bonbons, confections and bars.
The same is true in other food industries – a baker usually doesn’t own a flour mill to make the flour for the products she wants to make and sell in her bakery. It’s the miller who buys wheat grain which he mills into flour. The baker then buys flour from the mill to make her cakes. The mill and the baker are two different kinds of businesses, but partners in the process of turning grain into flour and then into cakes and cookies.
Or, if you want to take an analogy from a completely different industry, consider fashion. Typically one company makes the fabrics, and then another company makes the garments – shirts, dresses, pants etc. Again, two very different skill sets and two very different end products.
You may have heard terms such as “craft” or “small batch” used to describe chocolate makers. While these words aren’t regulated and don’t have a defined meaning, they are often a way that smaller chocolate makers use to differentiate themselves from large, multinational chocolate companies. In theory, Mars is a bean to bar chocolate maker, but the quality of the product they create compared to the chocolate made by an artisan chocolate make is very different. The number of bean to bar chocolate makers has grown rapidly in many parts of the world in the past 15 years, particularly in the United States. We have a list of chocolate makers on our website, and it is a challenge to keep it up to date with new companies popping up all the time!
Chocolatiers have been chocolate bonbons and confections since the mid 1800s. We also have a list of some of our favourite leading chocolatiers who are recognized as pioneers and masters in the field.
So there you have it – chocolatier and chocolate makers are different types of artisans. There is so much to get into in terms of the processes involved in each of their laboratories to make their products, but we’ll save that for another blog post!
Do you have any favourite chocolatiers and/or chocolate makers? Tell us in the comments!