Over the past few years, there’s been a steady procession of all-in-one food making machines marching their way into our homes. From beer-brewing appliances to flatbread machines to cheese making robots, there’s been no shortage of interesting new appliances to help us make different types of food or drink.
However, despite all the innovative new food makers coming to market, one category that’s been fairly bereft of innovation is chocolate…at least until now. That’s because a new startup by the name of CocoTerra is planning to introduce a new countertop craft chocolate maker that compresses chocolate-making from a process that normally requires a handful of different machines and a good half a day into a couple hour exercise on a single appliance.
CocoTerra’s eponymously named chocolate maker, which debuted this weekend at the Bay Area Maker Faire, takes the user through most of the chocolate making process: grinding, refining, conching, tempering and molding.
Those familiar with chocolate making will notice that the one step that is missing from above is the roasting of the cacao beans, and that’s because the machine couldn’t quite fit the entire process into one appliance. CocoTerra users start their chocolate making sessions by putting in roasted cacao nibs which they can purchase online at Amazon or through the CocoTerra app. For all but the most hardcore wannabe chocolate makers, I think skipping the roasting and winnowing of the cacao beans is fine, but true gluttons for punishment who want to go truly bean-to-bar can add a Behmor roaster and Champion Juicer down the line.
You can watch the CocoTerra in action below:
The device is the brainchild of Nate Saal, a former networking technology executive who first started working on creating a home chocolate making appliance over five years ago. In that time, the company has filed for patents (they have been issued one in Japan) and started working with noted product design firm Ammunition (previous clients include Ember and Cafe-X) to finalize the product.
I asked Saal who he thought the audience was for his chocolate making appliance, and said there were two main targets: First are those who already make chocolate at home the old-fashioned way but who could use the CocoTerra to experiment with new recipes and and to make chocolate must faster than the traditional method. Second are those who know nothing about making chocolate but would be use a machine like the CocoTerra who automates the process and makes it more approachable.
I think it’s this second audience that represents the biggest opportunity. After all, while chocolate is universally loved, it’s something hardly anyone makes at home because the process is just too complicated and time-consuming. If the CocoTerra can make the process of creating craft chocolate as easy as, say, making bread or ice cream, there might be a fairly big opportunity down the road.
Saal told me the company plans to sell the appliance as well as their own line of ingredients such as the cacao nibs, as well as a lineup of accessories such as chocolate molds.
“We not only want this to be a chocolate making system, but also a chocolatier system as well,” said Saal.
For you craft chocolate newbies, chocolatiering is what happens when you turn chocolate into a finished confection through the process of adding nuts, adding cream or sculpting it into an interesting shape.
If this all this sounds great to you and you’re ready to become a chocolate maker (or chocolatier), there’s just one problem: you’ll have to wait a little while. That’s because the CocoTerra team hasn’t announced the ship date. While Saal wouldn’t give me any hints as to when exactly the product will be ready for consumers, my guess is sometime in 2020.
Pricing is also still a mystery, but the CocoTerra will probably need to be under $500, and hopefully it prices in at $299 or less. Higher than that and I think they may have trouble convincing those who are chocolate-making curious to make such a big investment.