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We’ve been making chocolate day and night, well, ok, all day the last few weeks. 8,000 pieces to be precise. It’s been a good experience to finally be able to test our production capacity, which is looking to be somewhere around 16,000 pieces a month, or 400 pounds or so. This is with two people working full time. With another person, I can easily see it going beyond 500 pounds, easily reaching 20,000 to 25,000 pieces a month.
We had to do a lot of troubleshooting the first few thousand pieces, getting the enrober tuned just right so that almost all the pieces would come off looking as good as they should. It would have been nice to have worked with someone who had extensive experience already, but I guess that’s just the price I had to pay to figure things out on my own. Even if the enrober had come with an extensive manual explaining all the possible adjustments and things that could be done to fine tune it, there is not substitute for experience. To get everything just right, you have several variables to play with, including the viscosity of the chocolate, which can be adjusted through time and temperature and/or the addition of cocoa butter, the flow of chocolate, the angle of the enrobing belt, the level of vibration of the belt after the chocolate is covered, the height of the detailing rod, and the distance of the take-off paper belt from the enrobing belt. It took me some time just to figure out all the possible adjustments I could make before I found the crucial ones.
The quality of the pieces also depends highly on each piece being neat, clean, and symmetrical, with straight sides, no crumbs or specks of chocolate left from the guitar cutter, and clean, even bottoms.
The 8,000 pieces will go out next week in our first export order. At the same time we’ve been making these, I’ve been busy over at the printer’s getting the box and inserts made. This of course has meant several iterations of the draft of each box and insert, until all the errors were removed and everything looked just right. It doesn’t make it any easier that the designer has no idea of english so I had to correct even the most minor error, since all he was looking at were letters but not words
We are also beginning to source fair trade chocolate for future orders, as we are constantly looking for ways to improve the products as well as offer a wide variety of items to our customers.