What Does It Really Cost To Set Up A Bean To Bar Chocolate Factory?

Tempering/Molding room - El Castillo del Cacao, Matagalpa, Nicaragua©2017 Clay Gordon

This is in response to a discussion about the cost of setting up a small confectionery kitchen.

There is a lot of interest in making chocolate from beans, both in-country and out. There are many challenges, not least of which is securing the necessary equipment. It's easy and relatively inexpensive to find equipment for the kitchen hobbyist making 5lb-5kg batches.

It's also easy (but expensive) to find equipment that can be used to make large batches (1MT) at a time.

However, it's not so easy to find equipment for most everything in between that is both affordable and where each piece is scaled to the same throughput.

Yes, there are "turn key" systems you can purchase that are scaled properly. These might cost anywhere from $80-100k on the low end, for a system roughly capable of up to 50 kg/day up to 100,000 Euros for something capable of producing between 250-400kg/day.

It's also possible to piece together systems using a combination of commercially available machinery and home-grown pieces where needed, but this requires a certain mechanical ingenuity that not everyone possesses or has the patience for.

Jim Lucas over in the thread in Classifieds, asked about what it takes to produce in-country (in Jim's case, Brazil).

New member James Swanwick asked a very good related question, which is how much does it cost to produce a single bar of chocolate. Another way to ask this question - which may be more useful - is, "What is the minimum level of production (and sales) you need to get to in order to have a real (i.e., sustainable) business?

I'm looking to base a business plan on it so any freely circulating templates would be useful. I've made a simple one but there must be better ones out there.

@Limpopolondon -

I will create a new post with the link to the spreadsheet and I will let you know when I do. I also suggest purchasing Brad's book to provide another perspective!

Thanks Clay. The book contains a link to a pro-forma income statement, a full business plan, and equipment list. Quite a few people have already purchased it and the feedback has been fabulous! Here's a snippet from Thomas Forbes, one of the customers who purchased the book: "I think it is a great book for anyone considering getting into the business of making chocolate. Have read your posts on John Nanci’s site and I know Clay well. I see a lot of similarities in how you get your messages across. I really appreciate people like yourselves."


@choklat - I am happy to hear that the book is gaining traction, it's a necessary adjunct not only to what John and I have been doing but also with respect to a number of high-profile books that have been published in the past six months or so. I have downloaded but not yet examined closely the workbooks linked to in the book. I am confident that I will find things that will enhance the work I do.

A good rule-of-thumb is: plan carefully, then cost it THEN double the time and money you think it would take. This will more-or-less tell you if you can do it