Chocolate-Bean to bar revolution

Chocolate-Bean to bar revolution

mast brothers chocolate

 

There’s a chocolate revolution going on under our feet. It’s called bean to bar. Artisanal crafters have been buying sacks of cocoa pods and going through the whole process of roasting, grinding, conching and tempering the beans. This has actually been going on for a few years, but more and more people are jumping on the band wagon. All bean to bar chocolate bars are retailing at £5-7/ 56g-70g bar. Not cheap at all, but is it worth it.

If you like chocolate, and I mean real chocolate not Dairy Milk, then yes. It really is like fine wine compared to mass produced stuff. Why is this, and what are we looking for. The main reason, like coffee, is that the producer can decide which beans to use. They can then roast them for as long as they want and add anything they may wish. A lot of pre-bought chocolate will have all sorts of things in it. These artisan people put as little as possible in their products. Less is definitely more. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Las Vegas with work last summer. I thought while I’m there I’ll see if I can find a chocolate making cooking lesson. Bizarre in Vegas I know, but hey. I didn’t but what I did find is a little place called Hexx Chocolate.

Hexx bars

Every 30 minutes you can go into the chocolate kitchen have a tour. Free of charge. You are then given a plate full of five different origin chocolates to sample. They range from very bitter to the most amazing mellow toffee like chocolate. More astonishing is to then find out the bars only contain two ingredients, cocoa and palm sugar. I was hooked. I can’t believe the chocolate movement in America, but considering how bad Hershey’s is I’m not surprised. On my next trip to New York we stumbled across an amazing coffee shop called the Blue Bottle Coffee Shop. They take coffee to places where cocoa is now being taken. You can choose which coffee beans you want, and then how you want it made ie espresso/filter/drip then every type of soy/almond/ normal milk. They had very little in the way of snacks, but they did have a few bars of chocolate. These were from the Mast Brothers.

As it is when you are having a good time abroad, it was the best chocolate we’d ever had. Plus the best coffee we’d ever had. The Mast boys have opened up a shop in London. They originate from Brooklyn and are stirring up some controversy. I’ll come back to this, but firstly the lovely selection box I purchased above.

The flavours are intriguing. Dark, milk, sea salt, smoke, brown sugar, sheep milk, goat milk, olive oil, mint, almond, vanilla and coffee. The bars are delicious, some more than others.

I recently visited London and tried to find similar bean to bar chocolates from a shop called Melt-terrible customer service, they had no idea about their product. To Artisan Du ChocolatI defy anyone to make a better salted caramel truffle than these guys, sadly their single origin bars are way off the pace (too many extras). So in anticipation of this post I conducted a little research to find an article that came out yesterday in the New York Times. Great timing, I have heard that the aforementioned Mast Brothers just remelt someone else’s chocolate and call it their own. They obviously deny this, and I’m happy to believe them. I had a few questions for them too, they were very quick to get back to me and said all the origins of the chocolate is now on the website. At first I couldn’t find this, it’s not on their .co.uk website. It is all on MASTBrothers.complus their rebuttal to the allegations. Who would have thought chocolate could be so controversial. Why should you have to answer to everyone. Haters gonna hate.

Maybe the old adage of there’s no such thing as bad publicity will hopefully help the Mast Brothers. They are excellent bars, highly recommended. Hopefully, the quality of the product will speak for itself and shake off any criticisms.

The NY Times article makes interesting reading, and the author then goes on to taste test 14 of Americas new age bean to bar bars. Luckily for everyone in the US, I’m sure this stuff is easy enough to pick up. Sadly for us Brits thats not so easy unless you’re a jet setter like myself. I’ve found a solution though!

This amazing website:

Bean To Bar Chocolate.co.uk another great business idea I’ve missed out on. I’ll be becoming their new best friend and I’ll update this post accordingly as I find the best chocolate. Presently Hexx Camino Verde followed by the Mast boys Sea Salt.

One thing I will say without doubt though is the Blue Bottle coffee shop is simply the place to go for coffee. I wonder if they’d like to offer me a franchise for the UK?

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Bean to bar seems like such a lot of work to get a bit of chocolate. I’d love to learn how to do it but whether I’d go that far is doubtful. If I ate all the chocolate I made then I’d have to get a bigger house to fit myself in.

    Happy New Year to you and the family!

    • Dave Crichton

      Happy New Year too Maureen. I think I’d love to have a day in a factory, playing about then take your own home. You can temper chocolate at home, but that’s about the only part of the process that’s possible.

  2. Thank you for shedding light on the new world of chocolate sophistication. The whole Mast Bros versus NY Times piece could be made into a movie. Chocolate Wars indeed. I thought Green and Blacks was as good as chocolate could get, but from reading your post and looking at the website links, it appears there is a whole new world of Artisan chocolate. I have some catching up to do! Thank you for an enlightening post once again.

  3. I hadn’t had a commercial chocolate bar in ages, then I broke down and had a mini I took from out of the Halloween goodies and remembered exactly why I hadn’t: that waxy taste and mouthfeel, simply disgusting. Frankly, it’s just not worth the calories or the price (even though they are not expensive). I’m with you, quality is everything. We did some work with a boutique chocolate company a few years ago and their product was exceptional. I bought some Mexican baking chocolate last year and it was wonderful, sadly I purchased it at a show and forgot to keep the packaging. It’s unlikely I’ll go to Vegas again (been 3 times already and I don’t gamble!) but I just love cooking classes when I’m on vacation. How fortunate that the tour and samples were free (I wondered how much you bought afterward?). Thanks for the review, I’ll keep an eye out for the recommended brands.
    Happy New Year, David. I do hope 2016 brings you much happiness.

  4. Such a very interesting topic, David. I used to have a chocolate shop when I lived in Miami years ago. I bought from a lot of sources and a private chocolate maker. I know chocolate qualities have improved greatly over the years…my personal taste is only for dark chocolate.

    • Dave Crichton

      Hi Karen, you a dark horse! I never had any idea you had a chocolate shop. Do you know how to temper chocolate properly at home? This is my achilles heel.

      I’m definitely in the dark chocolate only camp. 70%+only, having said that, of all the Mast Brothers flavours the milk(60%) is the best.

      Regards

      Dave

  5. How odd… I decided to break off a little wedge of my 70 percent chocolate and a little cup pf espresso after dinner and it could not be more perfect. Eating chocolate while reading about chocolate. I am a dark chocolate only 70 percent or better… kind of girl too. A little wedge is all you need when it is really good. Your purchase looks interesting will have to check it out.

  6. Pingback: Mast Brothers Factory Tour – Fine Dining Recipes | Food Blog | Restaurant Reviews | Fine Dining At Home

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