The phrase small batch crafted gets harder and harder to quantify nowadays.
So, I’ll share what “small-batch crafted” means at Xoconat.
For starters, I craft every batch of chocolate, roast every batch of cacao beans and cook every pot of caramel. Crafting at Xoconat is an up-close, intimate process. I don’t pass the spoon on.
In order for the founder, proprietor, recipe developer and everything in between person to make your chocolate and confections, there is no other way to do but small.
It’s how I prefer to work. It’s not giving the side eye to businesses that wisely employ and train other people to stir the caramel, or who use large scale machinery, roasters the size of my kitchen, and industrial conchs.
Being a factory manager has never been the vision I had for myself. Far flung distribution, scrutinizing employee timesheets, standing in front of ra oom doing the boss thing — just not my thing. It does not move me.
I craft small for the very simple reason that’s exactly how I like it and because it gives me the freedom to craft somewhat unusually. I do things like smoke cacao nibs for the grinder with a candle that needs to be relit uncountable times. I use ingredients like shrimp chili flakes and shallot powder.
These are the kind of flavors, that when blended with chocolate, do not enjoy a mass appeal by any stretch of the imagination. I am not dialing in one roast, one batch and then off to there races with a bar that everyone will love. Again, nothing wrong with that.
With the chocolate I craft, I am having an intimate conversation with a maybe a few handful of people who get me. Who understand my way of working and intention. Because in weird way it mirrors their own outlook and disposition. This is what moves me.
No, I am not implying that small, micro, nano, or whatever-quantifying-adjective-you-choose is better. Besides, as I stated in the beginning, it’s hard to know exactly what is “small-batch”, when you one could argue quite convincingly that brands like Dandelion Chocolate and Raaka, are not that small given their scale of production in the context of the current craft chocolate industry where many, many businesses seem to be succeeding with teams of 1-3 persons and a few tabletop grinders.
It’s true, I probably can not buy beans at such a scale that will make a huge difference to a community, a point I have read and agreed with floating around the choco-blogosphere. I will not have the means to swoop in and give first hand aid in infrastructure or subsidize the education for a handful of children whose parents grow cacao.
What I do is educate one, two, three consumers at a time on a very personal level about cacao and craft chocolate. I help them determine the right questions to ask when purchasing chocolate which in turn supports not only my small business, but the lives of cacao farmers.
Let’s go lighter than that though: I simply help them love chocolate more. I’ve had many instances of someone saying, my so and so said they didn’t like chocolate and then they tasted yours and changed their mind. Most of the chocolate that people taste off the supermarket shelves does not taste good. Cloyingly sweet or thick on the tongue from palm oil, this kind of ‘chocolate’ perpetuates the grievous belief some people have that chocolate is not mind-blowing delicious. This is a problem.
By helping consumers to discover what real chocolate tastes like, that it is a nuanced, vibrant, multi-faceted real food, then we are helping to shift mindsets for the greater good on many levels.
Xoconat’s small batch crafted means you can always talk to me directly about the chocolate you have in your hands. You can DM me, the business owner, founder, maker and ask me where did I get my cacao, or why did I choose to combine fried garlic and fish sauce in a caramel. Better yet, DM me and make an appointment to come and see my tiny chocolate boutique and have a personal tasting. Connect with me. That’s why I’m here.