After a year and a half of gear up and a dozen experimental batches, I still consider myself an extreme novice at chocolate making.
Although we've made some huge improvements and the confections we make with our chocolate are highly sought after in the region, I don't consider the chocolate we're making as bar quality. I would not mold up chocolate into bars and sell it in that manner.
My wife calls it "wang". I agree there is an off taste. It is borderline bitter. I've read research papers suggesting that the roasting is not quite right. I've spoken with a friend who has a Phd in agriculture and is helping small African farmers make their own bars. He was telling me that bitterness is a result of under-fermented cacao, which would be difficult for me to do anything about.
I've even tried to add some baking soda in order to offset any remaining acid in the chocolate, but there's still a bit of a bite to it after that. For you purists out there, please don't cast any stones about the soda. :-)
Anyone else have suggestions? I typically conch/grind the chocolate for 48 hours. I have started using a forced air roaster that I rent from a neighbor, though we might have taken it to too high of a temp (150C) on our first attempt.
If it's a fermentation issue I will have to stop buying cacao at the open market and try to find a producer who will set some aside to ferment just for us. I spoke with one producer who says he ferments four days. I am told that six days is ideal.
updated by @mark-allan: 04/19/15 03:54:53PM