One of the more exciting aspects of food tech is its increasing ability to push food production to the edge. Instead of food being created in central factories and shipped around the world, advances in consumer appliances and the internet of things means that you can create more types of food more easily in your own kitchen.
Take chocolate. Between getting all of the proper ingredients, mixing, tempering and cooling, making your own chocolate can be a complicated endeavor. It’s much easier and faster to buy a pre-made chocolate bar from the store.
And while Israeli startup Chocomake may not take all of the work out of making chocolate at home, it promises to get pretty close. The Chocomake (which will soon be changing its name because evidently some other company holds that moniker) is a connected countertop chocolate maker. Choose a recipe from the accompanying app, add the ingredients and Chocomake takes care of all the mixing and tempering. When you’re done, pour your homemade chocolate into your preferred mold to cool and then eat.
Chocomake is still in the prototype phase, so a manufactured device wouldn’t even be available for another year or so. Liora Omer, Founder of Chocomake, told me by phone this week that the company is targeting people with dietary restrictions (need lower sugar or vegan options) and foodies who are interested in putting their own spin on chocolate. Though Omer wouldn’t share a specific price, the company will make its money by selling the hardware as well as kits for specific recipes.
But Omer was also quick to point out that Chocomake will be open, so you won’t be locked into a particular ecosystem a la a K-cup. This openness also means that customers will be able to customize chocolate recipes to their liking.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because CocoTerra is doing much the same thing. It too is a countertop device that lets you make your own chocolate (it too also doesn’t have a specific price yet). Omer said that the biggest difference between Chocomake and CocoTerra is that CocoTerra grinds cocoa nibs (Chocomake does not) and CocoTerra only dispenses into a ring mold (Chocomake’s output can be poured into different molds).
The bigger question looming over both devices, however, is one of convenience. Between direct-to-consumer channels from high-end CPG brands and the increasing ubiquity of online grocery shopping, getting high-end chocolate delivered to your door is easier than ever. Even if Chocomake takes most of the work out of making chocolate, will people still want to do any work to get their choco fix? Especially if it means spending a few hundred bucks on a single-use device that takes up real estate in the kitchen?
Having said that, this type of food production on the edge could be more appealing to small businesses. It’s not hard to see small coffee shop or grocery store chains buying one of these to make their own customized chocolate blend that can be branded and sold in stores.
Or who knows, maybe Chocomake can figure out a way to turn your homemade chocolate into a filament that can be run through a chocolate 3D printer to make something super sweet at home.