Thank you everybody for your strong support while we build our new cacao forge. It will be the largest facility for ceremonial cacao in the US!
Our new home in Graton, California (population 1,700) is ideally situated for our work. It's 15 minutes south of our very first cacao facility in Windsor (Northern California), just 30 minutes from the Pacific coast, and 10 minutes down a bike path to an organic and local grocery.
Coming full circle, our new home is also only 20 minutes from stunning redwoods groves where Jonas, the founder of Firefly, drank his first cups of ceremonial cacao!
Read below to learn more about what’s new for Firefly (P.S. - we'll be announcing sourcing from two NEW cacaos from different countries of origin soon!)
We are so excited about how our new space will amplify our ability and expertise in offering ceremonial cacaos for people all over the country and world!
Thank you again for believing in us as we take this enormous leap for the ceremonial cacao movement!
Note: Although our new ceremonial cacao space is larger, it's still considered very tiny for the chocolate industry. And Firefly still remains a small, immigrant-owned company that operates with integrity, just as how we started in our first space. The difference now is that our new chocolate forge will improve the quality of what we do by making our lives easier and addressing challenges in our current production process. We are not investor-owned, so we have no pressure to compromise or take shortcuts to deliver profit.
New Chocolate-Making Tools!
Taking the leap into our new facility means LOTS of new equipment. Here’s a list of our new items:
- roaster: lightly heats raw cacao beans. We’re moving to a state-of-the-art, US-built, natural gas-fired roaster for precision control of our light heating process!
- winnower: lightly crushes roasted beans to remove shells with air, resulting in cacao nibs. After having built handfuls of our own winnower designs, we just scored an epic one at an auction. It’s a Bauermeister, a German design, that is nearing 50 years old and built to last lifetimes. We are currently spending many hours polishing off the old paint and getting it ready for a new life! We’re also upgrading all the electrical controls.
- pre-grinder: a series of rotating rollers that crush the cacao nibs into a thin flake of a uniform particle size, preparing these for adding to our main grinders.
- grinder: our primary grinding process. This is how we make our cacao silky smooth. We also simultaneously conche the cacao, developing the flavor while reducing acidity, bitterness, and astringency.
- chocolate tanks: these stainless steel water-jacketed tanks with a big stirrer hold liquid cacao at just above body temperature, as we await to deposit it into cacao discs.
- tempering machine: brings cacao to a specific temperature in which cacao can eventually solidify with even texture, color, flavor, and “snap"
- depositor & cooling tunnel: the tempered cacao is deposited in discs onto our cooling tunnel belt. By the time it reaches the end of the belt, it’ll be solid cacao discs! Our new cooling tunnel is 110 feet long, a huge upgrade over the mere 24 feet we’ve been working on so far. This improves output and cooling of the chips.
- automatic weigher and bagger: our finished cacao discs are weighed and dropped into stand up pouches, then sealed and batch coded.
- automatic box builder: takes cases of boxes, opens them, and tapes them on the bottom, to streamline our shipping operations.
- forklift: we just got an awesome electric Toyota forklift that helps us move pallets of cacao and all our equipment around the larger space.
We are polishing our cacao winnower and getting it ready for a new life! It’ll be 50 years old soon, so we’re giving it a full upgrade!
Moving our second chocolate grinder into place. It weighs in at 5,000 lbs!
Assembling our cooling tunnel with our amazing new forklift!
Rebuilding the electrical box that drives the 8 motors on the winnower.
Laying out the hot water jacketed piping to transport cacao from the grinders to the holding tanks.
Figuring out all the pieces needed to connect our cacao grinder to the cacao pipeline!
New Building & Neighbors!
Our new building has two unique energy-efficient features.
First, the daylight tubes illuminate our production space, so we can work much of the day without any artificial light required!
Second is the passive cooling system.
The building has a new, highly insulated roof and a large thermal mass due to the concrete floors and stone walls.
At night, big fans in the roof turn on and louvers open down below to draw in cold air, bringing down the temperature so much so that we can operate all day in the summer without needing air conditioning!
Plus, we have some awesome neighbors moving in, and an enormous wine-making operation across the street from us that have been very willing to share their resources and experience with us.
What all this enables is for us to be supporting a large network of small farmers with our substantial purchases of cacao.
Cacaos We're Loving
How can we support your cacao journey? We'd love to hear from you! Reply to this email, reach out on social media, or click on the bottom-right-hand corner of our website for help.
With Love, Gratitude, & Cacao,
Jonas & The Firefly Family
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