First blog post for our new website, so to kick things off, we thought we would share some thoughts about a side of the business no one hears or even thinks about. How we make our blends!
Blending is done in whats called a ribbon blender. We started off mixing our blends on a small second hand mixer in which we could do 10kg batches at a time. At the time, we thought this was fantastic! However as we grew, we quickly realised another solution was needed.
We invested in our Mount Evelyn (Yarra Valley, VIC) facility in 2019 with the aim of being able to vastly increase our output. All of our products are made in house.
Firstly, raw ingredients are added into the machine on the left, to where it is sucked into the large blender in the middle. There is is mixed (in 600kg batches) and all lumps are cut down to a fine powder. After roughly 20 minutes, the product is ready, and it is released into the conveyor sitting under the mixer, to where it runs through a sieve to catch any remaining lumps. From there it is fed into our filling machine, where 2 operators will bag it into either 500g or 1kg pouches, depending on if it is chai or hot chocolate!
Generally, our capacity sits at around 2000-3000 pouches per day. Once it is bagged, it is placed into a stillage, and then labelled. From there it is either stored in Australia, or sent off to New Zealand in a container, to where it is shipped off to any one of hundreds of stockists all around both countries.
Some interesting points to note about blending of each product.
1) Beetroot latte and Matcha Latte are extremely dusty. If you are involved with blending either of them, your clothes will likely end up the same colour!
2) Cacao Hot Chocolate Dark And Cacao Hot Chocolate light are blended with a pinch of vanilla. When we blend this product, the entire factory smells so good that every courier or truck driver that visits has to comment on it.
3) Sticky Chai requires adding honey to the mix. Even if it is a beautiful summer day, we have to keep our main warehouse door shut when blending this, or every bee in the area will soon fly in to have a look. They are incredibly smart, and once the local bees figured out that this was going on, it's almost as if they send hourly patrols past our factory. If we are blending Sticky Chai with the door open, it wont take more than 2 minutes for bee number one to arrive to check things out.
4) Our Cacao White Chocolate is a very authentic white chocolate. We achieve this taste by adding melted cacao butter to our mix. When we are finished blending, around the blades of our mixer some of this cacao butter will harden. what remains, is a solid block of white chocolate so delicious that it is impossible to describe! We sometimes put this in food grade bags and send to certain customers in outgoing orders. Once they have tasted it, they constantly ask for it.
5) Our Nude Chocolate and Chai are almost entirely sugar free. The only sugar contained in the mix comes naturally in the form of coconut milk powder. We substitute sugar for a substance called erythritol - A form of sugar alcohol that is naturally made, looking exactly like white sugar, except containing zero of it! this gives an authentic look, feel and taste of a regular hot chocolate, just minus the sugar.
6) In alll of the above points, there is one thing that doesn't change. Wether it be our vegan spiced chai to our cacao hot chocolates and anything in between, it is quite hard work. If we are blending 2000kg of hot chocolate, every single KG needs to be lifted by hand, and as you scale up this remains. Luckily our production staff are no stranger to hard work and just as committed to bringing you our blends as we are.
7) If you have an idea of a blend you would like to see become a reality, please get in touch! We love to hear your ideas, no matter how weird and wacky they may be, and we love even more having a go at making it. So don't be shy!
Thanks and until next time!