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.
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 Chocolat–I 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.com, plus 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?