Forum Activity for @Jeff Stern

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
03/05/10 10:59:22AM
78 posts

Unfair Trade in Belize - How Kraft Shafts Cocoa Farmers


Posted in: Opinion

Great post and great analysis, thanks Clay.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
02/16/10 10:15:41AM
78 posts

Prefamac Molding Machine


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Try Luc Imbrechts at Bakon USA. He's the US representative for Prefamac and sells their machines through his company Bakon. I own a prefamac machine and have always had great customer service from him.Jeff http://www.bakonusa.com/
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
03/03/10 03:02:59PM
78 posts

Stabilizing Chocolate Sauce


Posted in: Recipes

Try contacting Yves Methot yves.methot@biosecur.com. Hes been very responsive to my emails.Im not clear on what youre referring to when you say ROE. Do you mean the Rosemary extract? You can get this from Lorann Oils, they call it simply "Natural Antioxidant."Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
02/10/10 07:01:38PM
78 posts

Stabilizing Chocolate Sauce


Posted in: Recipes

I am not a professional food scientist by any means, but powdered egg yolks may reduce your water activity as you noted. Dairy does have consideration. If you are using a butter ganache or butter in your sauce, there is a natural preservative made from oil of rosemary that delays rancidity and is FDA accepted. It is used in such small proportions that it will not introduce any "off" flavors into your chocolate sauces/ganaches. There is also a new product that is organic and citrus-based from a Canadian place called Biosecur, used in proportions of less than 1% of formula to prevent bacterial/fungal growth.I would highly suggest you purchase a lab Aw meter if you're really concerned about water activity in your formula. They can be had for under $2000.If you're worried about stability as in broken sauce or ganache and the emulsion breaking, you might try xantham gum.Again, though, I qualify this-I am not a food scientist and you'd probably be best off consulting with one for your issue.Best of luck!Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
10/12/13 08:04:51PM
78 posts

Cacao Pods


Posted in: Classifieds

If you are looking for dried pods, I have them in the US available on www.cocoapodshop.com . Right now we are out of stock, back in early November.

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
11/23/09 02:48:58PM
78 posts

Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate Single-origin candy bars by James Norton, Chow.com


Posted in: News & New Product Press

Single origin has long been a sexy marketing term for fancy foodthe idea of the ingredients coming from one place, and reflecting the terroir of that place, has spread into coffee, tea, and even flavored syrups.Aequare Fine Chocolates single-origin-concept candy bars are made from Ecuadoran chocolate and cost $4 for a small bar a price a surprisingly large number of people are willing to pay, according to consumer trend reports.That said, the single origin label on the bars is a bit mysterious. Some chocolate companies use the term to refer to beans harvested from a single plantation. Others use it to mean that their beans are from a single region or, in the loosest interpretation, a single country. In any case, saying somethings single origin is no guarantee of quality but does speak to an interest on the part of the producer to market to people who want to know where their food is from.According to Aequare, the companys bars are single origin in that the beans can be sourced to the Los Ros region of Ecuador; the 70 percent bars are made from beans that come from two farms within 15 miles of each other, run by the same farmer.But Aequares 55 percent bars are actually a blend of Ecuadoran Arriba and CCN-51 chocolate, the latter of which is often perceived as lesser quality.Jeff Stern, the brands chef-owner, says he cannot be dictating specs to the grower for the blends I might want because I dont have that kind of purchasing power to dictate formulas.Regardless of origin concerns, the bars taste delicious. The 55% Single Origin Bar has a wonderful but not overdone sweetness, with a touch of honeylike flavor at the backI think it would appeal to unreformed Hersheys-lovers and chocolate snobs alike. The 70% Single Origin Bar has a nutty warmth without any dryness or other unpleasantly austere sensations (bitterness, chalkiness) that sometimes crop up at higher percentages.The lemongrass-flavored bar offers only a slight hint of citrus until the end, at which point theres a clean and clear bolt of lemongrass. And the mandarin orange variety, easily a train wreck in the making, is a bit goofy but ultimately pleasing, like a gourmet version of the Christmas whack-an-orange, firm but not aggressive in its citric aftertaste. Pulling off a straight-up high-intensity chocolate bar is an achievement, but doing it with added flavors is quite an accomplishment.Original story at: http://www.chow.com/stories/11967
updated by @Jeff Stern: 04/09/15 09:57:33AM
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
11/23/09 03:08:10PM
78 posts

Closer Connection: Chocolate buyer to Farmer??


Posted in: News & New Product Press

This is an interesting model that I find challenging to implement, unless one is buying large quantities of beans (several tons or even containers at a time). Some small producers are organized into cooperatives, allowing them to consolidate their production to meet volume. However, at least here in Ecuador, most small producer still sell to "patios" or brokers who consolidate harvests from surrounding areas, and in turn sell beans on either directly to large MNCs (who often have theiro own buyers/brokers on the ground in-country), or to large commodity firms who then sell on to the major players.It's tough to buy directly from a cooperative or association of producers for shipment overseas unless they already have the infrastructure and logistics system in place to get the beans all the way to your door. I say tough because you need infrastructure to consolidate all those beans, pack them in a container, and ship them, along with all the logistics management. I say tough but not impossible, though (and again, I speak for Ecuador), most co-ops or associations don't have the capacity to do this. Kallari has been the one exception, but only because of generous financial and technical support. In some countries, you may even need an export company set up to export the beans, since commodities are often regulated by the state.Another model, which we use, is to buy directly from the farmer on the ground. We also have special circumstances that make this possible. First of all, we are here in a cocoa growing country. We work with one single farmer who has large production, and is able to manage everything from harvest to processing of the cacao into chocolate in-country. He charges a premium for high quality beans, as well as a premium for the chocolate he produces locally. In turn, these premiums allow him to provide such things as trained staff on hand for medical care, decent worker conditions, etc. One advantage of buying from a large grower is that we know all the beans are properly fermented post-harvest and treated properly throughout the entire production process. When buying from cooperatives or other associations, there can be differences in post-harvest processing from farm to farm, which can hurt quality. It's expensive and impractical to have someone on the ground year round, or even only at harvest time, to make sure quality controls are in place for beans sourced from a number of farms.I will watch this story closely and look forward to seeing how they end up implementing the model.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
11/17/09 03:28:00PM
78 posts

Help - Couverture on truffles is cracking.


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

You might want to do a hand coat first-put a dollop of tempered chocolate into your hand and roll the truffle around in it. Let the chocolate set. This first thin coat will strengthen the second coat and prevent cracking. Then dip your truffles again.To bottom, use a stencil with tempered chocolate to form bottoms (aka chablons, see http://www.shopchefrubber.com/home.php?cat=1540 ), then pipe your filling on top, let set, and dip.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
10/19/09 09:07:22AM
78 posts

Questions on American Chocolate Mould Table Top Tempering Machine


Posted in: Opinion

I've used these machines extensively. They are good and hold temperature well, and should be good for the class. They are not as sturdy as a Hilliard's or other stainless machines since they are made of plastic, but that also means they are lightweight and easy to move around.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/14/11 12:55:58PM
78 posts

Dried Cocoa Pods


Posted in: Classifieds

HI David:I know this message is from a while ago, but I have dried cocoa pods, as many as you need. you can see my store at www.shop.cocoapodshop.com
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
09/28/09 05:48:42PM
78 posts

Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Would like to see a section on pre-bottoming technique for slabs as well as technical advice on prolonging shelf life.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
07/30/09 01:02:41PM
78 posts

Venezuela's Cacao Plantations Stir Bitterness


Posted in: News & New Product Press

Bureaucracy is the choke-hold on the pent-up energy of many a business in Latin America. We face similar issues in Ecuador in producing chocolate from local cacao, but fortunately the export process is not as onerous as the one mentioned here.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
05/27/09 06:00:31PM
78 posts

Set up cost of starting a small chocolate business


Posted in: Allow Me to Introduce Myself

An immersion blender is like a blender, but on a stick. The motor and control is mounted on the top, you have a rod that extends down from the motor, and at the base are the blades. You immerse it in whatever you're blending. A good commercial one starts at $150 or more. The home ones burn out too fast in my experience.If you can have a work environment with stable temps between about 60-68F, or 16-19C, it's ideal.I am based in Quito, Ecuador. Just let me know if you have any other questions!Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
05/25/09 07:48:50PM
78 posts

Set up cost of starting a small chocolate business


Posted in: Allow Me to Introduce Myself

There are a number of factors that can influence your startup costs. With a few thousand dollars you can definitely get a good small operation going.Small scale melters, maybe two to start, can go from $450 to about $1200 (Mol'd'art, Hilliards, or others) each depending on size and brand.You could go with hobby grade molds if you want to do bars and other shapes, you can get pretty well set up for a couple of hundred dollars with molds. For professional grade polycarbonate molds, you can easily spend several hundred, if not several thousand dollars, pretty quickly.You'll need dipping forks if you plan to hand dip, these run about $10/each.Stainless steel tables, an immersion blender, cuisinart, and several other items are handy to have around the shop. Sheet pans and a pan rack are also handy to have around, no matter how small you are. A hot plate or gas burner and some good stainless steel cookware for making caramels come in handy. Let me know if you need more detail or ideas and I'd be happy to contribute.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/03/09 05:36:41PM
78 posts

Air Brushing & Table Top Depositor


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

That is a sweet setup! Your ingenuity is awesome. Just as good as stainless steel any day. We had a similar setup at a restaurant I used to work at for spraying plates with chocolate for decoration.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
03/28/09 02:19:25PM
78 posts

Calling all Chocolatiers: What are YOU Making Special for Easter This Year?


Posted in: News & New Product Press

For the local market here in Ecuador, we are making painted easter eggs. I use a variety of techniques and colors. People don't see much stuff like this here, so it goes over well. On the other hand, people think stuff that is "hand-made" is equivalent to home-made, and have notions of quaint, cute, but not of quality or appreciation for all the work behind it. In Ecuador, if you're not cranking the product out by the tens of thousands, then it must not be that great-at least that's the perception.

For more info see www.aequarechocolates.com and www.giandujachocolates.com
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/02/09 06:54:59AM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

I like this..."tree to bar" producer. Much more accurate. Thanks for the info.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/01/09 04:38:25PM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

They are indeed precut and glued.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/01/09 01:37:14PM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

We are packing bars by hand at this very moment! We also make and pack everything here by hand, box it up, and send it out to the US. I understand your point, and we are going to do our best to provide transparency in our upcoming launch and following marketing campaign.

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/01/09 07:42:01AM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

To clarify one of your points, from what I know, most bean-to-bar makers do not participate in the post-harvest handling of the beans which includes fermentation and drying, unless they own a cocoa plantation or have a very close relationship with the grower, and are on the ground at the time of harvest and post-harvest, which can be a period of several weeks 2x a year.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
03/30/09 11:59:15AM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Alan:Thanks for your input. I do agree some clarification is needed and I will be working on it over the coming months as we begin to roll out the product and hone the story. Your comments are very useful and definitely add to telling the story in a more transparent way.Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
03/29/09 08:47:58AM
78 posts

Chocolatiers = Re-melters?


Posted in: Opinion

Alan:I want to clarify what I meant by "Aequare participates in almost the entire process from bean to final product ..."Aequare does not buy beans and we do not process them ourselves. That said we do have a unique position, in that I personally know who's growing my beans (or where they are specifically coming from - this depends on the product I am using), under what conditions, and how and when they are harvested and fermented. I don't think there are many, if any, chocolatiers out there who are on the ground producing a product in the country of origin who are as closely involved or personally connected with the product from start to finish as we are.I have visited the farms and areas the beans come from, and frequently meet and talk with the growers. I personally know the processor of the beans, have visited the plant where they are processed (and can stop in any time I wish), and know the people involved in the processing. We neither supervise nor give instruction on the processing of the beans. I let all the individuals involved do what they do best - the grower grows, harvests, ferments, and dries; the processor roasts and processes the beans based on input from the grower, who's judgment I clearly trust, as he has more than 30 years experience in the cocoa/chocolate industry (which I do not), mostly here in Ecuador .I then acquire the finished couverture directly from the grower, as it's a product he follows through processing-he's not selling his beans to be processed, he's paying them to make couverture for him to his specifications, with the help of their equipment and expertise.It's at this point where my hand in completing the final product takes over; Aequare makes bars and confections from the chocolate - and given my accounting of our relationships with growers and processors, I think it's fair to say that Aequare is involved with the entire process. I think I would be selling myself short, as you so succinctly puts it, if I didn't somehow say I participated in the entire process, since I am clearly on the ground and able to witness, judge, taste, and give my input where and when I feel competent to do so.If you can suggest a better way to describe what it is Aequare Chocolates does, I would be happy to consider it in order to provide our customers with a more accurate representation of our activities.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
07/20/11 08:34:28PM
78 posts

necesito informarme . Donde comprar cobertura para templar en Quito - Ecuador


Posted in: Classifieds

Hola Ximena:

Te puedo ayudar con cobertura en Quito, llamame a 09 852 4773 ac en Quito.

Saludos,

Jeff

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
12/07/08 06:09:57PM
78 posts

necesito informarme . Donde comprar cobertura para templar en Quito - Ecuador


Posted in: Classifieds

Hi:I just responded in Spanish but anyway, my name is Jeff Stern and I own a chocolate business in Quito. Call me at 09 852 4773 here, I have very good 70% in 1kg bars, locally produced here.Best regards,Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
12/07/08 06:08:22PM
78 posts

necesito informarme . Donde comprar cobertura para templar en Quito - Ecuador


Posted in: Classifieds

Hola:Mi nombre es Jeff Stern y tengo una chocolatera en Quito. Le puedo vender buena cobertura del 70% a aproximadamente $15 el kilo. Llmame al 09 852 4773 en Quito y con gusto le atiendo.Saludos cordiales,Jeff
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
12/27/11 05:22:09PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

Thanks for the clarification PIerrick! Yes, I can understand the milk recall. I know most processors aren't willing to go through the thorough cleaning the production line needs to get a "pure" product, since it involves shutting it down and the related costs.

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
12/27/11 04:28:10PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

Thanks for the update Pierrick. Correct me if Im mistaken, but Ecuacocoa was processing your product for you at one time, is that not correct? I have no information on who or how you source your beans, but I do recall seeing your packaging on the factory floor in bulk on a factory tour at Ecuacocoa over two years ago. I can understand if you have changed processors or are doing it yourself.

On your web site it states at http://www.vintageplantations.com/store/our-mission/our-factory.html :

"Once our beans are collected, we follow a very specific procedure (tailored to each batch) for one week to transform our cocoa beans into 66 lbs. of chocolate blocks. This is the easiest way to store and move cocoa around in a very hot and humid country (we learned our lesson from trying to complete our process and package the products in Ecuador, only to see that we had melted and bloomed most of our production during truck movements from place to another). Hence, these blocks are sealed and brought to our premises in the USA for further processing and packaging."

So do you have the bulk chocolate made into bars in the US, or are you shipping liquor out of Ecuador, or bulk chocolate? It would be nice to have a clarification.

Just want to get the facts straight. Happy New Year!

Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
09/28/10 01:19:16PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion


updated by @Jeff Stern: 09/08/15 09:47:39PM
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
09/28/10 12:57:37PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

I do know personally of two farms where Nacional is grafted onto CCN51 rootstock, not the other way around. Perhaps this is an anomaly.Point taken about coops.Definitely, your last point on marketing is true...the terms have been so abused, especially Arriba, as to have become meaningless.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
05/06/09 10:51:20AM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

Hi Alex:Seems you know quite a bit about chocolate from Ecuador. I would be interested in hearing more. I do happen to work with a grower who oversees production using beans from two plantations he runs using only Nacional Arriba beans as you say. You are very right though about the difficulty of getting pure "Arriba" lots. If you are interested in more info about my experience on the ground (I currently live in Ecuador) please do not hesitate to contact me.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/19/09 10:10:58PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

I looked into this and found that Transmar , one of the biggest purchasers of cacoa here and one of the biggest processors of semi-finished cocoa products in Ecuador (liquor, cake, etc.), and a major commodity house worldwide, is running a pilot project to provide traceability of beans in Ecuador for four european manufacturers who are unnamed. Taura and Cone are mentioned as two areas where they are sourcing beans from. For the full article text in Spanish, see here .My educated guess is that Transmar guarantees that cacao from these areas is pure "Arriba" flavor, or more strictly speaking, pure Nacional beans that have been properly handled during post-harvest. Since they are buying the beans in the pod, they have an extra level of control over quality, origin, and fermentation.(However, IMHO, there is a lot of mixing of CCN-51 and Nacional going on that is pretty hard to control given some of the idiosyncracies of Ecuador, and unless you have a very close relationship with your growers, it just can't be guaranteed that there is no CCN-51 in what may be called "pure" arriba/nacional beans. But another "however"-more and more commercial buyers in towns around cacao growing areas now buy cacao "en baba" or with the placenta, allowing them to control fermenting, origin, and to a much greater degree, quality. This also makes farmers happy since they get paid faster, rather than having to wait several days through the fermenting and drying process before they can sell their cacao.)Adhering strictly to the "Arriba" definition of "upriver" the beans Transmar is gathering for this projects would seem to qualify, as at least Taura, as found on google maps, is near the Guayas river, see link here , though not necessarily "upriver". I could not locate Cone, though the article indicates it's also in the Guayas province. It should be noted that the article does not mention "Arriba" but makes the point that the beans are Nacional and fine aroma quality.
updated by @Jeff Stern: 09/07/15 01:45:51PM
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
04/18/09 02:53:28PM
78 posts

Chocolates of Ecuador -- Arriba, Nacional, CCN51


Posted in: Opinion

I'll add my two cents on who's processing what. I live in Ecuador and have heard of most of these bars, and can tell you some about some of them.Vintage Plantations is produced by Ecuacocoa, and as far as I know is mostly if not 100% CCN-51 beans.Republica del Cacao is produced locally by Confiteca, a large Ecuadorian confectionery manufacturer. Have heard but have no evidence that they do not produce their own liquor, but they do have their own collection centers.Caoni-Made by Tulicorp, not one of my preferred products. Personally, the flavor profiles all the products I have tried from Tulicorp just do not seem to sit well with me.Cacaoyere-Ecuatoriana de Chocolates' label, I think this is primarily sold in Europe, not the US.Kallari-contract manufactured currently by Ecuatoriana de Chocolates, though that may be changing soon as allegedly Kallari is working to build its own plant. Though I'm not sure it's exactly necessary or the best idea from an investment standpoint... from what I know there is plenty of in-country production capacity and unless you're planning to go huge (by that I mean 50+ tons a year or more in production) over night, there's no need to invest in production facilities at this time.Have seen a few of the other brands mentioned locally, but haven't heard of all of them.As to the CCN-51 and Nacional issue, my local sources tell me farmers large and small are planting more and more CCN-51 variety of cacao because of its higheryields, making the Nacional variety increasingly scarce. Anecdotally, on my recent trips to both the Quevedo/Los Rios area of the country and north to the Esmeraldas area, it's easy to spot CCN-51 and it's what you see nearly everywhere you go from the roadside. Since Nacional yields less per hectare and needs more care, it should be recognized by receiving a higher price on the market, but it rarely does. This is a big, controversial issue inthe Ecuadorian cacao industry and in the commodities trade as well, and was one of the main points brought up last year at the closing of the World Cocoa Federation's annual meeting in Guayaquil that I attended.While both types might produce a very good quality chocolate, amongconnoisseurs and chocolate lovers in-the-know Nacional definitely has aspecial standing above CCN-51. There is a lot of CCN-51 and nacional beingmixed both before and after fermentation, and once its mixed its almost impossible to tell the difference visually-though I did talk to a few buyers on commercial patios who said they can recognize it if theres a high enough percent of CCN-51 in the mix of dried fermented beans. From what I know, to develop a good flavor profile with CCN-51, it needs to be fermented on its own and with different procedures from Nacional, otherwise you will get off flavors. I buy some chocolate produced locally which is a mix of CCN-51 and Nacional, and you can definitely tell the difference from a pure Nacional bar.It might be an exaggeration to say that Nacional is already becoming scarce,but if the alleged trend continues, this may well become true, and CCN-51 will become the primary bean Ecuador produces.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
12/17/09 10:54:32AM
78 posts

chocolate tempering machines


Posted in: Opinion

I have a HIlliard's Little Dipper as well as two Mol'D'Art melters and I like all of them. The Hilliards is a little noisy with the fan and the motor, but built like a tank. It will run you about $1200 new last I checked. Great for a small operation. We also use a Prefamac with enrober (30Kg model)-great machine too for larger but still small-scale production. Can easily do 25-50 pounds daily or more on it depending on staffing and prep.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
06/23/11 05:02:45PM
78 posts

Mol d'Art


Posted in: Tech Help, Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

I own two of them, had them over 5 years and never had an issue. They are plugged in day and night and have survived power surges, uneven current, and every kind of electric shock Ecuador's power system can provide.
Jeff Stern
@Jeff Stern
01/04/09 02:05:04PM
78 posts

Brands of and Sources for Organic Couverture


Posted in: Classifieds

Could you tell me what manufacturers in Ecuador are producing organic certified chocolate? Thanks.
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