Tuesday March 23, 2004

I received confirmation today that I am getting a shipment of replacement cocoa beans AND a new type at that. I should have limited supply of the Forastero (smoke damaged and non-smoke damaged) and a very nice fully fermented Venezuelan Carenero Criollo Cocoa bean available by the beginning of next week. I will update the order page as soon as it is in and I am sure I am happy with it. The new Criollo will be priced a little higher ($1-2/lb I estimate) than the Forastero but I am told it is a very good bean with a nice fruity/winey flavor. I will of course let you know what I think and give roasting recommendations as I experiment with it.

In addition, I have a very promising lead on some Ocumare Criollo. I expect it to be quite different in flavor from the other Carenero but really cream of the crop. I should hear back about that in a few days. If all goes right, it should be available in 2-3 weeks.

Just as a reminder, please use jnanci at urcmail dot net for orders, questions or just correspondence. I will go ahead and accept orders now and will ship as soon as the beans arrive. The "proper" e-mail address should be back up in another week or so, as soon as the computer is back from the shop.

And finally, I expect the fully integrated shopping cart system to be in place with about a month. It got pushed back a little with the fire. That should make life easier on everyone.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding and happy chocolate making.

Alchemist John

06:11 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (4)

Posted Comments for this update:

[Wed 06:12] Zachary Mazur email ~
GREEN LIFE JUICER. I just made my first batch of chocolate this weekend with Brazilian organic beans (probably a mixture of types, like everything in Brazil). This site was a tremendous help. One discovery - we don't have a Champion machine so we used the Green Life juicer with great results. We had to de-shell the beans first, but afterwards the machine tears through the beans effortlessly and without heat. Now begins the more difficult work of refining the chocolate. Not sure where to start.
[Mon 08:22] Alchemist John ~ site
Zachary, That is great to know another juicer will also work. I will have to check it out and maybe get one to test. As for refining, does your cocoa liquer still have grit, or does your juicer get it smooth. I have found that the added sugar is what is difficult to get smooth. I have a refiner/conche in the works. The prototype will be like a heavy duty icecream maker. SS instead of plastic, and heater instead of ice.
[Thu 12:54] Zachary Mazur email ~
The output is gritty still. I ran it through a bunch of times and still it remains sandy. I am looking forward to hearing more about the conching machine. We are looking around for comparable machines down here with no luck so far.
[Mon 19:48] Alchemist John ~ site
Check out my latest post on sugar refining. Technically a conch just stirs. A conch/refiner will reduce particle size and promote chemical processes.

Wednesday March 10, 2004

Well, I have good news and bad news. My current stock is presently a complete lose. The beans have been smoke damaged, could have been contaminated from various fumes and I will not sell them in that condition. That is the bad news. The good news is I can get new beans relatively quickly. I should have them in a week I hope. They may even be a better grade, but I will not know for a few days. So, I am still accepting orders, but no shipping is occuring until the new stock is in.

And more good news. I believe I will have two choices of Criollo from Venezuela by the end of the month. And maybe some Trinitario with the replacement stock. Again I will keep you informed.

Finally, as for the smoke damaged beans. I am considering selling them HIGHLY discounted if people want to consider experimenting with them. They would NOT be for consumption, but very good for test roasting, grinding experiments and general learning where tasting is not required. I am not worried about equipment contamination, just consumption. Please let me know what you think of this idea. Here would be preferable due to e-mailing difficulties at the moment. I also may just include some in with orders if people want some to experiment with. I don’t know yet. Again, let me know what your think.

That is all for now. Thank you everyone for your continued patience!

02:06 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (2)

Posted Comments for this update:

[Thu 23:14] Kathy email ~
I am sooo sorry to hear about your home. My prayers are with you and your family. I came here tonight to order beans for my son's science project and now I don't know where to get them. Can anyone point me in the right direction??? I am getting desperate by the minute :). BTW, he thinks he can produce a virtually unmeltable chocolate but we MUST start with the beans....Please help if you can! The beans need to be edible. Thanks, Kathy
[Fri 16:06] Alchemist John ~ site
Why does he want unmeltable. Part of the appeal of chocolate is that it melts just about right at body temperature.

What is your timeline?

Monday March 8, 2004

As some of you know by now, we had a fire at our home this weekend. That means my life and Chocolate Alchemy is in a bit of chaos right now. That is where Chocolate Alchemy is/was located and we are in a hotel right now. The structure is still good, but the entire interior will need to be torn down and replaced, walls, floors, everything. The address I have listed to contact me on the ordering page is not really accessible to me right now, being in the smoke laden house right now. For the time being, if you need a quote or have questions, please contact me at jnanci at urcmail dot net. I am sorry about the inconvenience. Even so, my response my take a couple of days, but I will get to you. We are still shipping beans but may well have lost some stock. Don't know yet. What I do know is that I lost all of my "test" chocolates, like 10-20 pounds. Back to the drawing board for all of those. That is all for now.

03:03 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (7)

Posted Comments for this update:

[Mon 16:50] veronicalynne email ~ site
Hey there. Heard the bad news over on Ruzz' blog. I'm really sorry. I'm glad to hear most of you are still well. I mourn for the kitties and am glad they had each other.

Enjoy your newfound lives and let us know if there's anything the rest of us humanists can do out here.

[Tue 12:06] Alchemist John ~ site
Thanks so much. It is amazing the number of people helping and wanting to help.

BTW, I am with you about "bloglurkers". My counter says some 3300 people have been here but three people have left notes. Ah well, life goes on!

[Wed 14:29] ruzz ~
that's not entirely correct. Your counter says the page has been loaded 3300 times.

Its the simplest form of counter you can get. it tracks only the page load/reload.


[Fri 16:04] Alchemist John ~ site
True, but I don't think this place is so popular that the page is up a lot and just reloading. And I only check it once a day or so for comments.

Basic huh, maybe I should bitch to my IT guy. Cheap SOB :-O LOL

[Thu 17:21] Robert Cantor email ~
Sorry to hear about your house. hope you're well insured and end up with beter than what you had.
[Thu 08:06] david castellan email ~
maybe its just me but it was kind of confusing to post here... any way i am glad to see that there are other people interested in chocolate making. i thought long and hard about making small batches of chocolate and i am now at the point where i am going to buy a used macyntyre refiner/conch and do small batches (50kg) here in my chocolate shop. i bought 3 bags of carenero superior and will receive my machine in about a month. i will be roasting at the coffee roaster down the street. now my only problem is the winnowing part - any suggestions? also i found the cutest little stone melangeur/conche -check it out http://www.cho-co-tec.ch/Laboratory_max.html
[Tue 14:44] Alchemist John ~ site
Robert, thank you and yes we are well insured.

David, thanks for the note. That is great about you doing your own. Let me know if I can help you source any further beans. I just recieved confirmation of a shipment of Ocumare. They should be in next week. I will check out the conche. Thanks. As for a winnower, when I started this research a year ago, I came accross a few of them. I will see if I can dig up the reference.

Thursday March 4, 2004

I need to find a way to get the sugar smooth enough without milling. I am really trying to avoid the whole milling/refining thing all together, but I guess it is done for a reason. Actually, I still hold out hope as there are huge differences between large scale and home scale. We will see. Anyway, in preparation for the 3-4 lbs of cocoa that I have waiting on sugar, cocoa butter and time, I decided to try getting some raw sugar to the point of my memory of powdered sugar, i.e. no texture. I pulled out my "biggest" appliance, the Vita-Mix, added three cups (I will need more, but it is a start) of raw sugar and started. I started on low, and virtually immediately went to high. No problem. I reversed directions a couple three times at 30 second intervals for about 2 minutes. It is looking like powdered sugar at this point. Taste. Hum, still some texture. Another minute or so. The sugar is caking some and quite warm. Looking promising still. Taste. Less texture, but still there. That's all my tricks for the moment. I put it away and will ruminate on it awhile. The AlChemist has left the laboratory.

Ruminations: Maybe sugar and cocoa liqueur in vitamix or Champion. With the screen on the juicer, that would do it. I have considered adding a touch of water, but something about this does not feel right, but you never know when breaking new ground Supposedly it will cause the chocolate to seize. I should try everything and not just not try something because I don't think it will not work because I don't KNOW it will not work. I could be the philosophers stone after all.

Quick current update: No surprise but water does not work at all. It does indeed cause the chocolate to seize. Likewise the Champion just spits it out the front. The vitamix still stands a chance though.

07:03 am : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (0)

Monday March 1, 2004

I received in the most beautiful sample of Criollo.

Is that just pretty or what? Very clean, very few broken beans and a very nice even fermentation and preparation. Does it sound like I am impressed? I am. In contrast to my present stock of Forastero, it is a much lighter colored bean, and a little larger. I have yet to roast any up, but on a preliminary inspection it peels much easier in the raw state. I have already started the steps to see if I can acquire it. I hope so. It would be a very worthy bean. Once I get it roasted up I will see how it compares as chocolate.

02:40 pm : Posted to: General : Please leave a comment (1)

Posted Comments for this update:

[Mon 15:14] Matthew Givens email ~
I have a truly strange request, but it seems appropriate to pose this puzzler to a chocolate alchemist.

I am an amateur home-winemaker, and can ferment just about anything from plums or grapes to cinnamon or mint. But one thing I haven't been able to accomplish yet is to actually ferment chocolate.

My research has led me to conclude that if anybody has actually fermented chocolate, they haven't made public the method. I've seen attempts beginning from chocolate (doesn't work, too many oils in chocolate), powdered chocolate, chocolate syrup, and chocolate flavoring. Those few attempts that were successful turned out bitter.

I know that a few people (at least) are trying to ferment beginning with the cocao bean, but the results aren't in.

Do you have any insight on this problem? I've pretty much exhausted all my source of information, and I'm hoping you can help.

Cocoa Beans
Cracking & Winnowing
Conching & Refining
Tempering & Molding

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