Before tasting Mast Brothers chocolate you’re first treated to a feast for the eyes. The packaging designs are beautiful and reason enough to buy the whole collection! Last week, we visited Mast Brothers to learn about their bean-to-bar process and enjoyed a ‘few’ samples along the way.
As you step into Mast Brothers’ Brooklyn store you are greeted by the aroma of fresh baked cookies, bars of chocolate are displayed in neat stacks, while burlap sacks filled with cacao beans rest in the corner. We began our visit with a reminder that chocolate is in fact exotic. It begins its journey in humid, tropical climates, where cacao grows best. No, that’s not New York City in July – Madagascar, Tanzania and Peru are just a few of the regions where the brothers source their cacao beans, working directly with the farmers who grow their crops. We tasted the fresh beans, crunchy and bitter with a white, fleshy coating. Not very ‘chocolatey’ yet, but getting there.
The cacao goes through many stages before resembling what we think of as chocolate—roasting, grinding, tempering. What’s fascinating is that before any other ingredients are added, the chocolate has a whole personality of its own depending on where the beans originate from. As we snap pieces of Madagascar chocolate, we taste fruity flavors; hints of blood orange and raspberry are common from this region. Just like wine, the soil, climate and geography all play a factor in flavor. Notes of vanilla come through as we move onto Tanzania, a flavor that pairs well with coffee and hazelnut. Whereas the Peruvian bar tastes of lime and molasses, the flavors of soft fruits can vary from the north down to the south of this region.
Whether you are looking through their famous bars, filled bon bons or even a selection of chocolate beers, there are plenty of interesting and imaginative flavors to choose from at Mast Brothers. Amongst them is an entire sea salt collection, inspired by their best selling dark chocolate sea salt bar. Next time you reach for a bar of chocolate, why not try a single origin bar and see what hidden flavors you discover…
By Guest Blogger, Kieran Cawley, C-CAP’s Events and Marketing Coordinator