Local chocolate shop brings history of chocolate trade to light
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - One local chocolatier has introduced the Western Slope to artisan chocolate.
Keane Karnan, chocolatier and owner of Dirty Lil Cacao, continues to show people the history behind the chocolate trade with his shop.
What could be assumed as an easy profession, Keane said the chocolate trade has been a problem for quite some time.
“When chocolate producers or companies can go there and buy it [cacao beans] and beat down the prices, they are able to get their chocolate, but the producers can’t actually pay their workers. A lot of the chocolate producing places will use child labor or slave labor,” Karnan said.
Instead of following suit Karnan has found a more sustainable solution to making chocolate.
Karnan said, “We’ll actually kind of cut that middleman out and will go directly to farmers or will just partner with companies that will do a fair-trade price, so that the farmers will actually be able to use that money and pay their employees.”
When making each bar Karnan uses cacao beans from cacao plants located all over the world. Once a bean pod gets to him, Karnan begins the process of turning a rough looking football into a silky-smooth confection.
Karnan puts cacao nibs into a melanger-a machine breaking down the cacao nibs into a smooth consistency.
During this process other ingredients are added such as cacao butter, sugar and dehydrated milk.
When making different types of bars Karnan said there’s ways to achieve different types of chocolate from a molecular standpoint.
“It’s actually from the cacao butter, that’s what the chocolate crystals are actually in there. That’s where you’re trying to form or nucleate the different chocolate that different crystals are in.”
There are five types of crystals and they affect chocolate differently. Type one chocolate has a very low melting point as opposed to type five which can melt from just body temperature alone.
Karnan said, “You want to make sure that you’re getting all the type five otherwise, you’ll have the bloom from the other crystals and that’s where you’ll see a chocolate that is dark gray on top. They’ll crumble when you break it or it won’t even snap it’ll just kind of be really flexible.”
All of this science comes together so Karnan can share something unique with people.
“I want you to have this whole experience where you sit there and try it and find those flavors that pop off at different times while you’re letting it kind of warm up in your mouth. Because to me, it’s an experience. It’s not just a chocolate bar.”
Dirty Lil Cacao is currently being sold at 300 Main Street, Unit 101, Grand Junction, CO 81501
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