Thursday, December 18, 2008

¡Ole!

As Scott & I are trying to add the final touches to the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate production facility we want to give some thanks to Carrington Fox for a mention at The Nashville Scene blog. If you haven't had a look already we invite you to click the image below.





In recent weeks Scott, the lady friends and myself have added a bit of an organic feel to the shop by finishing out our counter space (which we invite you to have a lean on) with a woodsy tree cross-section feel. We'd like to give a shout out to a few limbs of some trees in Leiper's Fork for their sacrifice.

We've also added our stainless production tables for bar wrapping and general production-ality. The next few days are filled with cocoa bean roaster testing which we'll report on shortly!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

we love machines: part 3

Thankfully our final delivery of machines has arrived direct from the UK: the conche refiner and chocolate holding tank are now tucked safely at McGavock and Riverside. What the heck is a conche refiner? Its job is a simple one: develop mouth feel (conching) and reduction of partical size (refining). This lucky vessel breaks down the cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa fat and other ingredients into tiny, tiny particles which then yields untempered chocolate. The chocolate then pumps from the conche refiner to our holding tank where it's kept at a proper temperature and hangs out until it's then pumped on to the Gami tempering device. We're completely excited about getting them installed and pumped together so we can get this chocolate ball rolling!

In other chocolate factory developments we are in the process of building our front counter at which we look forward to sliding a bar or two of chocolate across to you. Thanks to Randy for all his help with this!

We are finally nearing the end of a very long journey (almost a year!) of choosing machinery, having it built to specification, receiving it and getting it installed. It's a huge relief to have each component of the machinery puzzle at the shop and ready to crank to kick out some mighty tasty chocolate!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Professor Crankenstein..


..was the name of our original hand crank winnowing device...it wasn't much bigger than a Mr. Coffee. However, we've graduated to bigger and better devices to do our chocolate bidding. I guess it's comparable to suffering through the old hand crank ice cream churns and having a nice, new sorbet machine. The cocoa bean winnower that you've probably already seen in the short video we've had for a while has been received, put together and tested in our production space here at our east side shop. It's loud as hell but it can crank through several pounds of beans in no time flat allowing us to shell beans in a flash! We owe a great deal of thanks to John Vessa and his wife Kim who single-handedly (well, almost) built this monstrosity, shipped it to us, and flew up here to train us and rebuild it in our shop. We are definitely indebted to these two confectionery veterans (his wife created Airheads!)

So now that we have our roaster, winnower and temperer we're in need of only a few more pieces to complete the puzzle. Testing begins soon!
video

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cuckoo for cocoa pods..

..or at least what's inside of them! We've received our first shipment of cocoa beans which consists of approx. 2400 lbs of Panamanian and Ecuadorian beans. We've been roasting, refining and tempering beans from literally around the globe (Domincan Republic, Ghana, Ivory Coast, ect, ect) trying to find the cocoa beans that really encapsulate the flavor we want to come out of the gate with. And that's not to say we won't come back to beans we've passed on in the beginning to create future bars..we just have a certain vision for our numero uno. It's really interesting how beans from different regions can vary so greatly..Dominican beans have raisin-y notes, Ivory Coast has heavy chocolate notes but not much in substance on the end. I think with our choices we might have it just right.

So, in the very near future we're certain to be dropping beans down the hopper and spreading the rich aroma of roasting cocoa beans to East Nashville..or at least our little portion of it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

we like machines part 2



The most important piece of the chocolate puzzle has arrived - the cocoa roaster. This beast roasts 50 pounds per batch at up to 125,000 BTU's. It's pretty serious piece of machinery! We had originally received it two weeks ago but it somehow got a bit mangled in transit. So it had to be sent back and repaired. Our duct guy came out yesterday and got the cool and hot air venting completed and piped out our smokestack. Finally feels like we're rolling!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

we like machines..

After a few weeks of radio silence (could have bored you with FDA meeting blog posts but decided better of it) I'm proud to announce the production equipment is finally starting to roll in. This week our chocolate tempering machine has arrived unscathed in the delivery process. Why temper chocolate? In the tempering process the machine heats the chocolate, cools it down, then brings it back up to the melting point again. The reason for doing this is to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals so they are all uniform in size. The result is a shiny luster to the chocolate and that satisfying snap when you break off a piece. In the very near future more machinery will continue to roll in hopefully resulting in production as soon as next month!

Most of the work at our location has been completed. Our giant chalkboard (we gotta put our ideas somewhere) will be wrapped up this weekend as well as few other small projects. We'll definitely keep you posted and hopefully add some new video this weekend. Oh, I forgot to mention, we'll have our logo worked out soon as well! That means we get to do some cool stuff like: create our building sign, order some awesome hats, make t-shirts, jumpsuits, petwear...you get the idea.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fluorescent Free Zone


Ok, so there were lights previously but we pulled them down because I don't think either of us could bare the thought of making chocolate under fluorescent lighting. It can be just a bit hollow sometimes. So we got our new lights hung this week and fortunately we were lucky enough to find these great industrial caged lights that are pretty great.

Hopefully we'll be seeing our completed logo very soon and also be installing a chalkboard on the stripped wall in our office area pictured below! It'll pretty much serve as a giant post it note/place for ideas/ect./etc..

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...the chocolate room..


This week we managed to get quite a bit of progress made on our production space. A fresh coat of paint and some serious 3 phase electricity was completed. This week we're installing our new lighting and 3 compartment sink while we're waiting for our machinery to arrive. We also hope to get our smoke stack installed for our cocoa bean roaster very soon. Above are a few pictures I took this evening - if you've been to Riverside Village's rear courtyard, the portholes along the wall opposite the herb garden look into our space. We'll also be replacing the sign just as soon as our logo is finished up!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shelling beans in Largo, Fl.

This past week Scott blasted down to Largo, Fl. to meet with a fella called John Vessa who is a "confectionery engineer" (no idea if that's his job title - I just made it up) who is constructing our cocoa winnower. This guy has been in the business for ages and knows his stuff in a major way. What's a winnower? A winnower does a very simple job. It removes the shell from the cocoa bean and puts the shells in one stack and the cocoa bean in another. Strangely for such an uncomplicated job it's going to be the largest machine we have at a hulking 12' x 6' x 4'. It's a real humdinger. Anyway, Scott got a chance to see the machine in action and also get a feel for this monstrosity who will soon be headed northbound to our little shop. Anyway, here's Scott taming this great beast:

video

Apparently there are only three of these machines in existence. One is in Hawaii at Kona Chocolate and the other is owned by those Hershey guys.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nashville's Artisan Chocolate Makers

It's been an incredible road already...locating equipment, locating the right size equipment, approving artwork, talking to cocoa bean suppliers, trying to find a location to make what we're passionate about - which is artisan chocolate. We have this dream of making incredible chocolate from its rawest form (the cocoa bean) then roasting, refining and tempering the chocolate into bars that not only stand up against our own strict personal standards, but are accessible to anyone who enjoys a good hunk of chocolate. And who doesn't?!

So it's our good fortune that the Olive & Sinclair production space has landed at Riverside Village in the heart of East Nashville. The space that was formerly Neet Designs is in the process of being transformed into the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate manufacturing facility. We'll keep you updated with words, pictures and video of Scott and I receiving giant machinery and finishing the space out to meet our and your needs. In the meantime, follow along with our saga to become Nashville's first artisan chocolate makers. If you feel the need to ask us questions, sling us an email at info@oliveandsinclair.com.