An array of chocolates and the delicious aroma of chocolate will greet you once you step inside Ratio Cocoa Roasters. Melbournians always welcomed new additions in Melbourne food scene. This time however, a new café will delight chocolate lovers and connoisseurs.
Curious about origins of chocolate? Indulge in artisanal chocolate creations and participate in a factory tour. You’ll also have a glimpse of how a chocolate bar is created – from the bean to bar.
The cocoa beans are the star here. Ratio Cocoa Roasters’ bean-to-bar approach lets people taste multitude of flavours from a variety of beans and blends. The brains behind Ratio, Debbie Makin notes that preferences for chocolate differ from one person to other. People can come here and discover their ratio. No chocolate bar tastes the same as the difference boils down to the natural flavour of the beans.
Makin imports the beans from Central America, South America, and the South Pacific Islands. She herself visits the plantations, coordinating with local farmers and cooperatives along the process.
Ratio Cocoa Roasters – Process
Production is a rigorous process. Cocoa pods are picked by hands due to nature of trees and fragility of the fruit. It takes about five months from the flowers to ripened pods. Growers plant trees around cocoa trees to protect the plants from harsh weather. Farmers use machetes to open the pods and expose the beans to open air. The beans undergo fermentation. This is a crucial factor that could affect the quality of the beans if not done correctly. After fermentation and drying, comes exporting.
The magic continues in the kitchen where the team starts out by sorting the beans by hand and then roasting them in a ball roaster. They roast the beans at 125 C for 15 minutes. This may vary depending on the type of bean or the flavours they want to bring out. The beans then go to the cracker winnower which separates the husks from the nib.
The nibs go to the stone grinder for 24 hours to achieve smooth consistency. Afterwards, they add sugar after 48 hours. The chocolate mixture is set, divided into blocks and aged for at least three weeks.
Now we are onto the tricky part – tempering. In a nutshell, chocolate undergoes through several temperature changes to stabilize fatty crystals of cocoa butter. Tempering prevents streaks of waxy film that forms when cocoa fat separates. Tempering gives the chocolates their glossy appearance and the “snap” when you take a bite. This process is also an essential factor to the chocolates’ shelf life.
Ratio Cocoa Roasters – Products
The chocolates are single origin and organic, created with no additives or preservatives. Their dark chocolate contains only two ingredients: cocoa nibs and raw cane sugar. Milk chocolate has four ingredients: cocoa nibs, sugar, whole milk powder, and liquid cocoa butter. The myriad of flavours you can taste in each of the chocolate bars would surely surprise you. They are not overwhelmingly sweet nor bitter. Well balanced where you may pick up a hint of citrus, nuts and even herbs.
Starting from production up to the detailed packaging, one can definitely admire the efforts and passion that Makin and her team poured into the café. Chocolate fan or not, a visit could change how you taste and view chocolate.