The process of setting up a commercial chocolate-production kitchen will depend on the type of chocolate you intend to produce. If creating chocolate from raw beans, you need equipment for roasting, grinding, conching, separating and tempering your chocolate. If creating chocolate confections from existing couveture -- stock you obtain from another chocolatier -- you need equipment to heat the chocolate and molds to shape it. Write a detailed business plan, and take the opportunity to think about production processes and necessary equipment.
Check zoning, health and fire codes in reference to building a commercial chocolate-production kitchen in your area. Apply for construction permits and, if required, submit a plan review to your local health department.
Order your roasting, conching and tempering equipment from a company that specializes in professional chocolate-production equipment. Conching requires a vibrating machine to create a smooth texture. Tempering, the final stage of the chocolate-production process, requires heating to achieve a silken texture. Assess the electrical requirements for each piece of equipment, and wire your space to accommodate them.
Arrange your equipment so your production will gracefully flow from one step to the next. If you are making chocolate from scratch, your sorting and cleaning area for the raw beans should be near the roaster, rather than near the tempering machine. If you are working with couveture, plan plenty of table space near the stove, so you can easily transfer the melted chocolate from the pan to the molds. Plan space for additional ingredients, packaging supplies, and hygiene supplies such as disposable gloves, at appropriate spots in the production layout.
Pay attention to temperature control when setting up your commercial chocolate-production kitchen. Install air conditioning in the production area so the chocolate will set on hot days. Design your storage area for beans to maximize air flow and keep your inventory cool.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.