Colocal Chocolate Factory and Café has brought to life the fantastical world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, allowing visitors to watch the chocolate-making process on the first floor.
The idea was born after café owner Sheetal Saxena remembered her struggling years as a novice trying to break into the field. She tried contacting several Indian and foreign chocolate makers to watch the process of crafting chocolate, but to no avail. So, she decided to change that.
Visitors’ first view of the factory is of an entirely female team busy turning cacao beans into creamy chocolate. Each team member has been trained in the meticulous 13-step process, from roasting and conching to tempering, to skilfully handcraft premium quality chocolate.
Colocal works exclusively with Indian-origin cacao beans from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, which are harvested, fermented, and manually sorted before reaching the Cacao Roasting Room.
There is no professional cacao roasting machine in India yet, so Saxena modified a coffee roasting by adjusting the speed and temperature to accommodate cacao roasting. The machine roasts 2.5kg of cacao in 25 minutes, which is then transferred to a cracking machine that turns the beans into a coarse powder.
Next in the process is the winnowing machine, which separates the husk and cacao nibs from the coarse powder.
The Melanging room grinds the cacao nibs into a liquor. To make chocolate, Saxena adds sugar, and to make cacao butter or powder, she puts it in a hydraulic press machine to separate the butter from the liquid, leaving behind a 'cake' that is frozen and turned into cacao powder the next day.
It takes three days to make one batch of chocolate. Chocolate is similar to wine in terms of its acidity and fermentation process. To minimise the acidity, Saxena conches the chocolate. In a conching machine, the chocolate is heated to a certain temperature and infused with oxygen, and evaporated. The longer the conching, the smoother the chocolate.
The last step is tempering. A tabletop method is used for milk chocolates, whereas vegan chocolates are tempered using a special tempering machine.
The women then pour the chocolate into moulds, remove the air bubbles and leave it to settle at room temperature before manually packaging it.