Express News Service
The Colocal Chocolate Factory and Café, Dhan Mill compound, in Chhatarpur, is fulfilling the Willy Wonka dream, by letting visitors watch the chocolate-making in its see-through factory on the first floor.
This idea came about after owner of the café, Sheetal Saxena, remembered her struggling years as novice in the field, when she had tried to contact several Indian and foreign chocolate makers to watch the process of making craft chocolates, but in vain. So, she has decided to change that.
Your first view of the factory is of an all-women team busy turning cacao beans to creamy chocolates. The team includes Farheen, 24, a graduate in bakery from IHM PUSA, who joined the café a month back, and has been trained in the lengthy 13-step chocolate-making process that includes roasting, conching, tempering, etc., to skilfully handcraft premium quality chocolates.
Colocal only works with Indian-origin cacao beans from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, which are plucked, fermented, and manually sorted before reaching the Cacao Roasting Room. Saxena informs us that there is no professional roaster machine for chocolate yet in India. “So we modified a coffee roaster — by making speed and temperature changes — for cacao roasting.” Emanating a pitter-patter sound, the machine roasts 2.5kg cacao in 25 minutes, which is transferred to a cracking machine that turns it into a coarse powder.
We proceed to the winnowing machine that separates the husk and beans (cacao nibs) from the coarse powder, working on the principle of vacuum. Moving into a more intense and streamlined method, we enter the Melanging Room, where the noisy machines working 24×7 — Maharani machine(5okg) and two baby machines — welcome us. The chocolate nibs are put into the grinder — but in small quantities at intervals to avoid choking — that turns it into chocolate liquor. “To make chocolate, we add sugar to it and to make butter or cacao powder, we put it in the hydraulic press machine and separate the butter from liquid, leaving behind a cake press that is freezed and turned into powder (cacao) the next day.”
Coming back to melanging, it takes three days to make one batch of chocolate. We were on Day 2 of a 40kg chocolate getting churned into a Maharani, so the consistency was still grainy. “Chocolate is like wine in terms of acidity because of the fermentation process. Since we don’t like our chocolates acidic, we conch it,” shares Saxena. In a conching machine, it’s heated at a certain temperature, oxygen is infused and evaporated. The longer it conches, the smoother it gets.
Finally, the chocolate is ready for tempering. There’s a table top method for all milk chocolates, while the vegan chocolates are done using tempering machines. The women then pour the smooth chocolate into moulds, occasionally tapping them to remove air bubbles, and it’s left to settle at room temperature, before being manually packaged by the team. Voila! The chocolates are ready. Colocal also has plans to introduce workshops on chocolate-making and other processes, so watch this space for more.
Slice of life
This idea to let anyone view the chocolate-making process came about after owner of the café, Sheetal Saxena, remembered her struggling years as novice in the field, when she had tried to contact several Indian and foreign chocolate makers to watch the process of making craft chocolates, but in vain. Colocal also has plans to introduce workshops on chocolate-making and other processes