A while ago I had the pleasure of visiting Cornell & Pieter de Villiers in Hermanus to have a look at the only “bean to bar” chocolate production facility in South Africa.
Upon arrival, we indulged in mugs of steaming hot chocolate and platefuls of chocolate muffins. I could definitely say at this stage that the de Villiers’ style of breakfast is a mythos I could adopt! After a radical sugar spike, we headed for the bean storage facility, where each origin of bean is stored separately. Stored in 25kg bags, the beans are kept on wooden pallets off the floor, in order to keep any pests away from the precious morsels.
A former electrical engineer turned chocolatier, Pieter has designed & made a large portion of the equipment necessary for his chocolate production. Internationally, chocolate production utilizes very large and extraordinarily expensive equipment which, for the micro chocolatier, is simply not feasible.
Pieter’s engineering knowledge has not just been limited to converting domestic, everyday items into chocolate-friendly machinery; he also developed the computer software that all his machinery is programmed to. For example, the bean roaster (which once was a pretty standard domestic oven) has a myriad of different roasting settings, all particular to the origin or ‘personality’ of the bean it’s roasting – certain beans may require a higher roasting temperature or a longer roasting cycle. Each batch of beans that is received is tested for defects, pests, mould & moisture content and is programmed into the system accordingly. This is one well thought through operation, and you can taste it in their chocolate. For a more thorough breakdown of the chocolate-making process, take a look here.
Cornell & Pieter tell me that their strategy is to introduce a few more lines once they have a handle on how the general public receives their chocolate. Initially, they thought that the South African consumer would struggle with the fact that their chocolate is unflavored. Dedicated to introducing SA palates to ‘real’ chocolate, Pieter & Cornell painstakingly selected a range of 5 origins from a list of over 25 different origins, based on their taste profile, and launched these just a few months ago.
For chocolate that contains 70% cocoa butter and no other flavorings, the flavour notes that come through across the various origins is phenomenal. It cannot accurately be explained in words, you simply must taste the chocolate yourself.
Currently, DV Chocolate is sold in a select few establishments around the country, but the good news is spreading fast! To see where you can get your paws on these delightful treats or become a stockist, click here.
*All images courtesy of DV Chocolates