High end chocolate makers all have specialties and unique products that give them their distinctive place in the market. However, beyond the differences that set each of them apart, these top gourmet chocolatiers have several things in common. These common characteristics are partly responsible for their success and their sustained capacity to compete in the global business arena.
1. High end chocolate makers use only the best ingredients. This means that first, they choose their cacao beans carefully, making sure that these are of the finest quality. Most of them will process the beans themselves, producing the liquor and the cocoa powder in procedures that satisfy their standards. They will also use cocoa butter, rarely, if ever substituting soya lecithin or vegetable oil for this more expensive cacao byproduct. This holds true as well for their flavorings, which would be the genuine article, not imitations. Orange extract would mean something that really came from an orange in the not-too-distant past. Vanilla would be a flavoring that actually came from a pod and not some laboratory.
2. Gourmet chocolate makers have arrived at their own formula for the kind and quantity of beans used for their chocolate. To illustrate, it is said that Criollo is the most flavorful cacao, but because it is vulnerable to disease and not as prolific as other varieties, it is rare and therefore more expensive. The most widely grown and readily available cacao bean is the Forasterio. Chocolatiers through the years have had to create their own equations for the best combination of beans and they stick to these faithfully knowing that they need to be consistent with the quality of their products.
3. Most high end chocolate makers trace their history to a time when their founders began a business using family recipes. Some of these gourmet companies will feature their heirloom creations prominently and mention how old the recipe is. Along with the history and recipes, the founders of these top companies seem to have left behind the legacy of a vision and the principles that steered them to that vision. One company has embraced the motto of Quality without Compromise. Another establishment lives by the goal of providing their customers with moments of timeless pleasure through premium chocolate.
4. They pay attention to their customers. Most high end chocolate shops have pleasant salespersons who are attentive, courteous and approachable; most of them will be eager to offer you the free samples the store is giving away. As a rule, their salespersons in chocolate boutiques know the store’s products and are able to point you to a specific confection from their wide array.
5. They pick a particular field or niche then do their best to shine there. For example, one manufacturer has chosen to specialize in handmade chocolate. This establishment has tirelessly created version upon version of its classic truffles to meet the growing demand for variety. They have hand rolled chocolate fondants in flavors such as coconut, berry, passion fruit, caramel and many more.
6. These chocolate makers invest in their staff by hiring the best people. Their kitchens are presided over by chefs, not ordinary cooks. Because of the quality of people they hire, they are able to come up with refreshing new creations constantly.
7. There is artistry in their product. Everything, from the packaging to the appearance of their chocolate is put together carefully and creatively. Moreover, each piece they produce passes the four traits of superior chocolate: visually smooth and glossy, aromatically subtle, melts in the mouth in a few seconds, and maintains a delicate balance of flavors that upholds the distinct essence of the chocolate.
8. Lastly, they are able to keep up with the times by meeting market demands and making the transformation from small homespun business to scientifically managed and competitive organizations. The nice thing about these chocolate makers though is that in spite of their tremendous success, they have somehow managed to keep their love for chocolate intact. This last quality is perhaps what places them at a level all their own.