Hands-on Bean-to-bar Chocolate School: Curriculum, Cost, and more

Clay Gordon
@clay
12/13/12 12:53:08PM
1,680 posts

In another discussionhere on TheChocolateLife, member Mahmoud Baktaji asked about existing bean-to-bar chocolate schools to attend.

Based on responses to that post, I thought it would be interesting to ask the question directly to members:

If someone was going to be developing a hands-on bean-to-bar chocolate school, what would/should the curriculum include? What would be a good location for it? What techniques and equipment should be covered? And -- finally and importantly -- what would you be willing to pay to attend such a school?




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

updated by @clay: 11/10/15 09:36:48AM
Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
12/14/12 12:28:14AM
527 posts

Funny you should post this Clay... Today I was thinking about putting on a 3 day"bean to bar" course, which would have participants do everything from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, and would also include equipment lists, prices from suppliers and so forth - essentially everything they would need to set up their own chocolate business. All the person would need to do is start making calls and wiring money.

The course would also include an evaluation of various types of equipment, including the plusses and minuses of each, as well as an overview of how to start and run a successful chocolate business.

Full turn key, I was thinking of charging $5,000 per person with a maximum of 3 people per course, and a guarantee that they would save at least $25,000 in unneccessary equipment purchases by taking my course, while at the same time being able to set up a business that could easily handle $500,000 per year in business.

For those truly serious, $5k is a pretty small investment for the information that took me over 3,000 hours to accumulate.

Any thoughts?

Brad.

Sebastian
@sebastian
12/14/12 05:39:15PM
754 posts

What's the value associated with 75,000 hours of experience?

8-)

Gap
@gap
12/16/12 07:06:53PM
182 posts

Only my opinion, but I wouldn't have thought 3 days is enough to teach someone to make bean to bar chocolate, operate the machineryand how to setup thebusiness. Would you be assuming a certain level of knowledge re some topics?

Kane Dijkman
@kane-dijkman
12/17/12 06:54:22PM
5 posts

Seems to me (as a beginner/hobbyist) that multiple classes might be good.

One class that focuses on the "art" of making chocolate from bean and another that focuses on the business side of things.

As a hobbyist I am currently most concerned with making good chocolate. So roasting profiles, winnowing tools and techniques, refining approaches are all big questions on my list. My goal would be to learn and improve my technique before developing bad habits. Then I can continue to refine my skills until I am ready to take the next step.

At that point I would be interested in the business side. Where I am going to have a whole lot of other questions about bean sourcing in volume, equipment to use, costs / revenue / money stuff, marketing / promotion, etc...

Having said that, the price I would pay for each half is quite different. There are a lot of sources online for getting started with the art side. A little reading and an open mind for experimenting has got me making bars that get a favorable review. So unless it could help me get to the next level in quality I would not look to pay too much. Certainly under 1,000 USD. However for the valuable business insights I would happily pay a lot more. After all, if I am going to invest tens of thousands in equipment and rent 5,000 USD for hard to find knowledge is well worth it, as Brad covers above.

Gap
@gap
12/17/12 09:40:40PM
182 posts

I think the actual making of chocolate could even be broken into seperate courses itself - especially if you are talking making hobby chocolate at home versus making chocolate commercially.

Kane Dijkman
@kane-dijkman
12/17/12 09:55:33PM
5 posts

I agree. I am sure there are plenty of issues that come up when you scale to a production level that a hobbyist would not be worried about. Everything from storage of the beans and completed chocolate to efficiencies you can leverage when making large batches and even wrapping choices.

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
12/18/12 01:08:16AM
527 posts

At least a free fireplace mantle!

;-)

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
12/18/12 01:12:19AM
527 posts

3 days of hands on, accompanied by some thorough documentation is a heck of a lot of information if delivered property. Obviously one isn't going to cover all the in's and out's of a business. I've been starting, financing, and selling businesses for many years and I'm ALWAYS learning something new. The course would simply be a kick start in the right direction, and solid guidance of where to spend and NOT spend precious seed capital. The value of the course comes not from what you learn to do, but where you learn to NOT waste money in this case.

Hope that makes sense.

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
12/18/12 01:20:43AM
527 posts

There are VERY significant business differences between a home hobbyist, a small artisan, a commercial artisan, and a mass producer of chocolate confections.

However there is almost NO difference between a home artisan and a mass producer of chooclate with the exception of the size of the equipment used. The end result is always the same, and uses the exact same ingredients to make one product and one product only: chocolate.

Scaling a chocolatier is very, very different than scaling a chocolate maker.

Cheers.

Brad

Sebastian
@sebastian
12/18/12 06:25:26AM
754 posts

totally worth it!

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
01/03/13 01:55:31AM
527 posts

Lisa, "quite pricey" is all perception. Put it this way:

You could by a Netsch chocolate refiner for $75,000. What if I told you that you could buy a conche/refiner that would do just as good of a job for $30,000 but it would cost you $5,000 to get the information for the company that sells it. THEN... What if I could give you the contact information of a reputable company that could sell you a conche/refinerfor just $6,000 which could do the same thing with almost no maintenance, 24/7 for several yearsas the $75,000 and the same thing as the $30,000 unit?

All of a sudden paying $11,000 ($5,000 to me and $6,000 for the refiner) to save between $19,000 and $64,000becomes a FABULOUS deal.

Anything else I offer in my course is just gravy.

Sometimes business is also about saving money, not just making money.

Cheers

Brad

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
01/03/13 09:03:40PM
527 posts

Lisa;

I'm probably not going to offer a course. Unless it's something I'm going to do many times over, the up front work isn't economically feasible. I taught software programming at the University of Calgary for several semesters as a contract instructor, so I'm aware of the up front work that chisels away at the per hour bill rate that one can charge.

The whole purpose of my reply was to put things into perspective. Sometimes the sticker shock of an item may seem hefty, but when presented with the alternatives and their associated costs, or in this case the cost savings, the price justifies the outcome.

Those who are serious about making chocolate and were at one time prepared to spend the kind of money I mentioned wouldn't hesitate to pay the fee for the course if they knew it was going to save them the cost of the fee 8-10 times over.

Please don't be offended.

Brad

Steve3
@steve3
01/04/13 02:28:34PM
4 posts

Data such as supplier information is readily available from sites like panjiva, importgenius, etc. that provide import/export details for much less than $5k; sometimes it is even free.

http://www.greatexportimport.com/buyer-ftcg_enterprises_inc/826888/ningbo_new_tang_intl_trading_co_l

Providing a fee-based business mentoring service may be a better approach for you, Brad. There are lots of business issues not specific to bean-to-bar that many start-ups need guidance in. Marketing, branding, hiring, negotiating, customer service, etc.

Regards,

Steve

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
01/04/13 08:22:03PM
527 posts

Thanks for the feedback.

Cheers.

Josh Mohagen
@josh-mohagen
01/01/14 12:21:24PM
1 posts
Hello,It seems like I am late in on this discussion. Is this course in existence with brad churchill. My wife and I would be in for sure!Josh
Channy
@channy
05/26/14 09:12:05AM
11 posts

Would anyone in North America (or elsewhere but preferably in English), be willing to run a course, or know of a course or place for training in Bean to Bar? I am applying for funding to attend training. I am also happy to Stage somewhere to learn too.

Any info would be fantastic.

P.s in regards to what I would pay- between $3000 and $5000 for a course which covers everything from understanding beans, selecting, roasting and everything to final product- hopefully also covers which machinery is best suited but happy to pay someone separately for that information.

Cheers

Ash Maki
@ash-maki
05/29/14 12:37:42PM
69 posts

cole chocolat runs a bean to bar course for around $450 Its entirely online and runs over the course of a few months. I think the next one starts in september. For the money it provides a wealth of information and very good introduction to the world of making chocolate. Not equipment training per say or recommendations in any one direction, with the exception of tutor feedback, but very neutral information in all aspects of the industry and a good broad outline with lots of resources. A good start I would say, which does cover everything you mentioned above.

Adriennne Henson
@adriennne-henson
06/02/14 08:50:59AM
32 posts

I just came across all of this and all advice is very good,being on the other end of chocolate a consumer who loves good chocolate and a chocolate personal shopper. In the end,the chocolate bars have to taste good. Much hard works goes into making the bars and it is also an art with science thrown in. I have tasted many bars along the way and can now tell if something is off.So after all the courses much practice and good tasting beans.It is hard to know which course would be good,how much info is there, but I do hope that there will be more bean to bar courses for the people who wish to get into this so that the consumers like myself can keep on buying and tasting bars.


updated by @adriennne-henson: 01/19/15 11:42:02PM
mariano garcia
@mariano-garcia
05/10/15 04:33:07PM
61 posts

Hi I am looking for a course that in Spanish and online?

 

someone can remomendar me any, I live in Honduras, Central America

angenieux drupa
@angenieux-drupa
09/23/15 05:13:26PM
15 posts

Hello,





Mark Heim
@mark-heim
10/09/15 01:02:28AM
101 posts

I have taught bean to bar courses, including hands on work, they take 2 weeks. 

angenieux drupa
@angenieux-drupa
10/09/15 06:46:27AM
15 posts

Hello mark,

Can you tell me more about that course? where does it take place?

Mark Heim
@mark-heim
10/09/15 07:11:34PM
101 posts

There are several good ones offered.  Look at the PMCA and AACT websites.  Also once a year they have an excellent 4 week course at ZDS in Solingen, Germany.

 

Clay Gordon
@clay
11/10/15 09:26:15AM
1,680 posts

angenieux drupa:
Hello, Can anyone tell me if the course of academia of cacao is full for 2016? Is it possible to get on the other course?  " I am from french guiana.

If you are referring to the Academia de Cacao in Nicaragua, the course in May is not yet filled. However, it is not bean-to-bar class, it's rooted in what you need to know to improve cocoa quality.




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

Tags

Member Marketplace


Activity

Marita Lores
 
@marita-lores • one month ago • comments: 0
gallery images
DSC_1022 (2) (800x533) DSC_1041 DSC_1032 (2) (800x533) DSC_1043
Marita Lores
 
@marita-lores • one month ago • comments: 0
gallery images
DSC_1022 (2) (800x533) DSC_1041 DSC_1032 (2) (800x533) DSC_1043
Vercruysse Geert
 
Vercruysse Geert
 
Marita Lores
 
@marita-lores • 9 months ago • comments: 0
Pascuas 2019
IMG-20190327-WA0016 IMG-20190318-WA0020 IMG-20190320-WA0020 IMG-20190327-WA0013
Liana Ayala
 
@liana-ayala • 9 months ago • comments: 4
Posted a new Comment on @jessica-osterday:
"Hi Jessica, I have purchased some cocoa butter from Ecuador at Conexion chocolate, it  is really good. Try  to contact them because I don't know if they have..."
Clay Gordon
 
@clay • 9 months ago • comments: 0
Posted a response to "Need New OG Ecuadorian Cacao Butter Supplier"
"Jessica -  The archive does not get a lot of traffic. Try re-posting here:..."