The paid evaluations have been an incredible valuable experience. We learned what we set out to learn where we have the greatest opportunity to improve our chocolate. But we also learned a great deal about sensory evaluations. There are certain things that they can/will tell you, but there are other things that you really have to take in context the HUMAN context.
All three of the tasters identified our particle size and tempering as areas that need to be improved. Were currently using just a little Santha melangeur as our combination refiner/conch, so no major surprise on the particle size/mouthfeel feedback. The tempering was also understandable as I hand tempered (tabled) very small batches for these evaluations, and frankly, my technique is still a work in progress. So much for where they all agreed
Actually, they also all agreed (mostly) on our best chocolate one of our Peru Nacionals. But from there it was very much a rating of personal preferences. Without going into all of the details, suffice it to say that one of the tasters singled out one of our bars as having potential to be our signature bar, while another taster was well less impressed. Another bar that two of the tasters (and ourselves) thought was sub-standard was the other tasters favorite.
Those results actually thrilled us it goes back to the notion that if you test a product (any product) and more than about 20% of the testers really like it, it doesn’t matter what the other 80% think about it you have a market a passionate group of customers who will seek out that particular product.
Back to the particle size thing, though. While we like the idea of hand crafted (and even rustic) chocolate, were really after something more refined literally and figuratively. Were looking into roll refiners to improve our particle size control. We’ve found a couple of candidates, but they’re pretty expensive (almost $15k) just wondering if anyone on this forum has any thoughts or experience with roll refiners any recommendations?