How many cacao beans does it take to make a year’s worth of LetterPress chocolate bars?

(Hanna Carter / For The Times)

2,959,560 million: The number of cacao beans the LetterPress Chocolate company roasted last year.

That’s right, LetterPress Chocolate co-owner David Menkes counts the beans that go into his chocolate bars, which are mostly 70% cocoa. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, if you know that it takes 60 beans to make a single bar of chocolate at his Culver City bean-to-bar factory and retail shop.

For the record:

10:40 a.m. July 14, 2019This article incorrectly spells David Menkes’ last name as Menke.

Menkes and his wife and business partner, Corey — they have one other employee — molded 49,326 bars of chocolate last year, which adds up to the just under 3 million total. All those beans, sourced at origin — Tanzania, Trinidad, Peru, Belize, Ghana, plus a few other countries — required 2,401pounds of sugar and 72 hours on average to stone-grind each batch. (Some batches take 168 hours, as different origins have different amounts of acetic acid, which are driven off during the grinding process.)

After all those hours of grinding, the blocks of chocolate are aged for an average of 30 days before being tempered into bars. The Menkes hand-wrap every bar: “It takes 1 1/2 hours for the two of us to wrap 250 bars while we listen to audio books,” he says.


LetterPress is getting a second grinder soon, at which point you can double many of these numbers.