Forum Activity for @Michael Arnovitz

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
03/25/13 02:12:56AM
59 posts

matfer choco 15R


Posted in: Opinion

Matt could you be a little more specific about the problems you've had with the chocovision?I've seen a few people complain about the smaller chocovision temperers, but the people who own the larger ones seem to really like them. Did you own one of the smaller ones? I am looking into the chocovisions myself, so any feedback from someone who has owned one would be helpful. Thanks.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/28/12 05:10:10PM
59 posts

Is it safe to make truffles without enrobing?


Posted in: Tasting Notes

There's a Seattle chocolate company called "Intrigue Chocolates" that does exactly this.They tell people that their chocolate (interestingly they call their product "chocolate" or "truffles" but never ganache) must be refrigerated and eaten within the month. I bought some about a month or so ago. Their samples were terrific, but once I brought the bar home and refrigerated it the texture was just never the same.

Bottom line - yes you can do this and Intrigue is making a whole business out of it, but you would have to instruct your customers to refrigerate the ganache if they're not going to eat it within a few days. Many (if not most) retailers would not want to sell a product that had such as short shelf life. But I think that if you present the ganache as an artisan product with no preservatives, etc and you're honest with your customers about the limited shelf life you would be fine. Many customers might even see it as indicative of a higher quality, craft-based approach.

http://www.intriguechocolates.com

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/17/12 05:38:04PM
59 posts

White Chocolate WITHOUT vanilla


Posted in: Classifieds

The Askinosie Davao white chocolate bar has no vanilla. But I don't know if it's available in professional weights such as multi-kilo bars. Then again they're not a huge outfit, so if you need enough they would probably hook you up.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/12/12 08:53:37PM
59 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Clay

Re: your question, Still the questions remain, what are more of the characteristics that define this $100 bar?

My take on this is similar to Lanes. Among other things I own a marketing company, so from a purely marketing perspective it seems to me that a legitimate $100 chocolate bar requires the same three things as any other product that is priced in the top tier and substantially above the norm:

1) A level of quality that is significantly and unquestionably above the norm.
2) A level of rarity that makes the item prized beyond even the issue of quality.
3) A pool of possible customers who can be identified and reached, and who have both the desire and ability to spend money on this product.

And here in my opinion is where we run into the main problem. When we ask whether or not any chocolate exists that is worth $50/ounce, or what the traits of that chocolate would be, we are asking the wrong questions. The issue is not the product. The issue is the customer. And by that I mean that there is no pool of customers for a $100 chocolate bar. And if there is no customer for a $100 chocolate bar, then there is no $100 chocolate bar. And there are no meaningful traits for a product that cannot be sold.

Im not trying to be cynical for effect. I think that this is an important topic. But I also think that the discussions I see about this nearly always confuse what generates value and therefore pricing. I think its critical to remember that the makers control quality, but the buyers control value.

Lets recall the history of lobster. Until the mid-19th century lobster was considered garbage food. It was only eaten by the very poor, and even then only if nothing else was available. Servants on the east coast even had it written into their contracts that they could not be forced to eat lobster more than twice a week. Suffice it to say that one of the most popular uses for lobster at that time was as fertilizer. It wasnt until well into the 20th century that lobster became a gourmet item. Now imagine a discussion in 1850 about the traits for a $50 lobster roll. It would have been a short conversation, but not for lack of quality. The reason you could not have sold a $50 lobster roll in 1850 was not that the quality was not possible. The reason is that the customer was not possible.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the same thing applies to coffee. What are the traits of a $100 pound of coffee? In 2012 we can now delineate those traits. In 1972 we could not have done so because there were no customers for that product then. It took the specialty coffee industry 40 years to get to this point, and there is still much work to be done. Currently, at least in the U.S., it does not appear that craft chocolate is anywhere close to this.

The good news is that Americans love chocolate. The further good news is that the American appreciation of craft (dark, specialty, etc) chocolate is definitely rising. The bad news is that after 100+ years of buying cheap industrial chocolate, most Americans still dont value chocolate very much and simply dont believe it should ever be that expensive. Chocolate, as was the case with coffee until the second wave, is viewed as both inexpensive and common.

Changing that viewpoint and building a pool of customers who understand, accept and value the difference between craft and industrial chocolate is the key, and is directly analogous to the change in consumer viewpoints and buying habits that happened (and is still happening) in the specialty coffee industry. Only when a large enough pool of potential customers understand craft chocolate and are invested in it, will a $100 bar begin to be possible. In other words, the path to a $100 chocolate bar does not begin with the product. It begins with the customer.

The specialty coffee movement had thousands of coffee houses spread across the country with which to evangelize the masses. What does the craft chocolate movement have? That is the question we should be asking. In my view, its only when we have a suitable answer to that question that we can really even begin to start talking about $100 bars.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/08/12 10:59:09PM
59 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Clay:

I have been thinking about these types of questions for some time now. Here are my thoughts.

In regard to who is going to be the Starbucks of chocolate my answer is that I dont know, nor do I know if there even will be a Starbucks of chocolate. Personally I hope not. And also I dont think its necessary. Yes, Starbucks helped accelerate the rise of specialty coffee in this country. But all Starbucks did was speed up the process; it would have happened anyway. It was happening anyway. Remember, Starbucks was around for nearly 20 years before they really even started expanding.

Also, over time Starbucks did a lot of damage to the national perception of specialty coffee. Indeed, a large part of the motivation for the third wave of coffee was a reaction to Starbucks and its ilk. In this regard large corporations tend to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand they typically have the financial resources to market aggressively on a national level. That can be helpful for not only them for others in their industry. On the other hand large corporations nearly always concentrate far more on revenue streams, cost control and process than they do on craft and product quality.

When I suggest emulating the coffee industry model Im not talking about Starbucks, Im talking about the thousands of independent cafs that formed in cities across the country. Many if not most of these coffee houses started small and just figured out how to do it. And they served a regional customer base, not a national one.

After a while people in nearly any decent-sized city could suddenly go to a local caf and get coffee products that were far superior to anything they had experienced. And because this was happening all over the country, it became part of the national conversation. Consumer expectations rose, along with their perception of the product and their willingness to pay substantially more for that product. It was a ground-up, grass roots kind of thing. Not a top-down, big corporate Starbucks thing. Starbucks deserves some credit, to be sure. But having been there, I think they get more credit than they actually deserve for building the industry, and less blame than they deserve for damaging it.

Anyway, would this be difficult to do with chocolate? Perhaps. But if you had told any random person in the 1960s that someday there would be thousands of cafs across the country that concentrated only on coffee and espresso drinks, and where the average cost for one of those coffee drinks was $3-$4, they would have told you that you were crazy. And then 20 years later it was true.

Now you point out, and rightly so, that the immediacy and variety available in the modern coffee house has no current equivalent in the chocolate industry. But your observation appears to carry with it the suggestion that this is simply the nature of the beast. I dont think this is the case, and quite frankly Im soon going to be putting that to the test with an upcoming project! Not only do I think this it is entirely possible, I absolutely think that this is the best way forward.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
11/04/12 07:28:38PM
59 posts

What the Chocolate Industry Needs is A $100 Bar of Chocolate


Posted in: Opinion

Ive been saying this for some time, and I will continue to press my case: when it comes to efforts to raise the apparent value (and price) of chocolate, the model should not be wine. The model should be coffee.

For the first 100 years after it became fairly popular (ca. mid-1800s) coffee was an industrial product produced almost exclusively in factories, with little consideration for quality. The main goal was simply to sell as much as possible at the lowest price possible. Sound familiar?

The specialty coffee movement completely transformed this model. I was part of the second wave off coffee, and when we started selling gourmet coffee and espresso beverages in the 70s and 80s people were, to put it mildly, skeptical. The idea that there even was such a thing as gourmet coffee seemed ridiculous to many people. It was like claiming you had gourmet milk. Coffee was a commodity, and commodities were, by definition, the opposite of gourmet.

Nearly every day we had to explain to customers why they should pay so much more for our coffee drinks. After all, it was just coffee. Also, people thought our coffee was too strong, and would often ask is to water it down so that it tasted normal. Again, does this sound familiar?

But heres the thing: over the course of less than five years people stopped questioning our pricing, and they also quit asking us to water down our coffee. We stopped being a rare (and odd) treat and instead turned into a necessary part of the daily routine. And this, by the way, was all before Starbucks. Starbucks, despite all of their legitimate shortcomings, turned a racecar into a rocket ship.

Now, across the country, the specialty coffee business remains nearly entirely non price-sensitive. Paying $3-$5 for a coffee drink is the new normal, and even including inflation, the average price of retail coffee beans has probably gone up by 20%-30%.

More interestingly, the top tier of coffee beans has gone up considerably. These days there are numerous specialty coffees that cost $50-$80 a pound, and the high end can go much higher. For example in June of this year Stumptown Coffee paid over $12,000 for a mere 150 pounds of a varietal of green beans from Guatemala. Thats over $80 a pound, which means that once roasted this coffee will almost certainly sell for a minimum of $250 a pound. Probably more. And I doubt that they will have much trouble finding willing buyers.

This is what the coffee industry has done in only several decades. And in my opinion, if you want to see $100 chocolate bars some day this is the path to follow. In less than 25 years the American specialty coffee industry went from nothing to a multi-billion dollar juggernaut. And in the same period of time coffee went from a cheap commodity to a respected and profitable gourmet product. Everything that the new wave of chocolate makers want has been accomplished by the specialty coffee industry. Why arent we paying more attention to that?

When I was at the Northwest Chocolate Festival a few weeks ago there was a seminar in which exactly this question was put to a panel of industry insiders: how can we get chocolate priced along more of a spectrum, like wine? Of course like wine. Always like wine. And of course everyone proceeded to talk about how great it was that wine could sell for $10 or for $5,000 and how chocolate needed to be and deserved to be more like this. Which led to the inescapable (and in my opinion completely erroneous) view that the business model for chocolate had to be more like the one used for wine. Nobody of course had any idea how to make that happen, but it seemed as if everyone agreed that this was the goal.

But in my view this is not going to happen, because wine has a unique culture that cannot be and will not be replicated by chocolate. Thats the bad news. The good news is that there is already a business model that could serve as a nearly perfect blueprint for how to move the chocolate industry forward, and it CAN be replicated by the chocolate industry.

You want a way forward? You want a business model that will yield a profitable industry along with customers who will spend up to $50/ounce for chocolate? Quit thinking wine. Start thinking coffee.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/22/12 12:54:00PM
59 posts

Hot air roasting machine


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Clay - Omar seems to be talking only about roasting nuts, so I think he'll be fine with either a fluid bed or a drum. But this brings up a point I was wondering about: if a drum roaster at typical speeds is too rough for cacao beans, wouldn't a fluid bed roaster be a disaster? It seems like it would make a complete mess of the beans, but you may have heard differently.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/21/12 01:29:36PM
59 posts

Hot air roasting machine


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

Omar - one other idea. The nut roasting machines you linked to look like drum roasters. If you are OK with using a drum roaster instead of a fluid bed you might want to also take a look at Toper. They are another Turkish company, and as far as I know they have a good reputation. I know that they also make nut roasters, and I think that they can even build whole plants if you have the need and the budget. (http://www.toper.com/index.html)

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
10/20/12 06:35:28PM
59 posts

Hot air roasting machine


Posted in: Geek Gear - Cool Tools

You are looking for what's called a fluid bed roaster. Some people also call it a Sivetz roaster. They are not as common as drum roasters, except at the industrial level, and I know that in the artisanal coffee industry there is a lot of debate about whether or not they are as good as drum roasters. But that's coffee - for roasting nuts I haven't really heard anything either way. Someone else here may know.

Michael Sivetz passed away earlier this year, and I don't know if his company is still around. I think the son took over but I'm not sure. I did hear that one of the main engineers started his own company, called Heis or 428 Roasters. (http://428roasters.com) I think that the largest roaster they make at the moment is 35 kilos, but you can ask them and they might be able to ramp that up for you.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/06/12 06:24:41PM
59 posts

go-to dark chocolate truffle recipe?


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

I'm no expert, but my understanding is that ganache typically breaks for two reasons: too much fat or too low of a temperature when agitating. Since you are having more breaking with less cream the fat content does not appear to be the issue for you. So it's probably the temperature. If your liquids fall below 90F before mixing with the chocolate you're asking for trouble. I'm guessing that may be what happened in your previous breaks, especially since it happened with less cream (which was the warm part). You don't want your liquid so hot that you lose your Form V crystals, but you want it above 100F before adding to the chocolate so that you can avoid breaking.

Another trick to toughen up the ganache by the way is to wait until it gets down to about 72F, and then table it for a very short time. I've never done this myself, but I've read that this will make the ganache less soft. Apparently it's really easy to overdo this however, so you want to be careful (and quick) if you try this. But it may help you out. As for the recipes you've seen, those sound like they are intended more for glazes, frostings or fillings. Of course you have to do what works for you, but 2:1 is definitely the standard, and I would give it another test.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/06/12 02:15:04PM
59 posts

go-to dark chocolate truffle recipe?


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

General rule of thumb is 2:1 ratio for dark chocolate and cream. So you're a little light on chocolate with the above. Also, butter tends to soften the ganache. So unless you're adding a liquid flavoring (and in the above you're not) or using a low-fat cream I would consider leaving that out. You might try another test batch with 250 g choc, 125 g cream, 30 g glucose and see how that works out. And of course do not cool it in the fridge. That will make the ganache softer too. Let it cool at room temp (65-70). 24 hours. Anyway that's what I was taught. Others here may have different advice.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
09/04/12 06:57:38PM
59 posts

Invertase


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

I am not an expert, but my understanding is that the ratio of invertase to fondant should range between .1-.3%. The larger amount will make the process speed up a bit. So for a pound of fondant (454 grams), you would want to use .5 to 1.5 grams of invertase. I'm guessing this is about 1/4 tsp, but you should of course do things like this by weight not volume.

As for keeping it cold, I don't think so. You want to make sure you don't add the invertase into a fondant mixture that is too hot (nothing over 150F), but once the final pieces have been dipped storing them at a cold temperature actually slows down the process. So if you want to move the process along keep them at the same general room temp you keep your other confections. Others here with more experience may have more (or better) info however.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/14/12 08:29:02PM
59 posts

How to print white on chocolate?


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

I'm sure that there are others here with more experience in this than I, but you could start here I suppose:http://www.chocotransfersheets.com

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/14/12 08:25:32PM
59 posts

How to print white on chocolate?


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

The image is a little small, but I assume a custom transfer sheet would do the job quite nicely.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
08/06/12 09:46:46PM
59 posts

tea and chocolate


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

The thing about tea is that the flavor characteristics we tend to like (essential oils, etc) come out first during an infusion. The things we tend not to like (tannins, etc) come out later. Tannins typically result in a "bitter" or "astringent" taste. It's a "chewy" sensation toward the back of your mouth. Whether we're talking about tea, coffee or wine, a little tannin can be very good. A lot almost never is.
If you are experiencing this in your ganache, the most likely reason is not any type of reaction with the cream. Rather, you are most likely over-infusing your tea into the cream. Generally speaking, there are three ways to pull back on this. First, infuse the tea in cream for less time. If there's any way to infuse the tea for a shorter period of time and still get the final flavor you want, this is the way to go. Second, lower temperatures. Heat brings out the tannins. Turn the heat down. Third, surface area. Some teas have large leaves, some have small. The smaller the leaves, the faster the tea will infuse and the faster those tannins will rush into your cream.
As a side note, Earl Grey gets its distinctive flavor from oil of bergamot. If you add this oil directly rather than infusing tea into the cream you might have more luck, along with more control over the flavor profile of the final ganache. Just a thought.

mda@umgdirectresponse.com
@mda@umgdirectresponse.com
05/18/13 02:11:05AM
59 posts

melanger necessary?


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

Clay - in regard to the conche you refer to at the end of your post, I have seen universal conches that look like a small Macintyre. I think Brad uses something like this. Is this what you are referring to? I had no idea that they were that much faster than a stone grinder.

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