Interview by Joshua David Stein, Video by Woody Jang
The Mast Brothers make chocolate in NYC. It's one of the very few places that craft bean-to-bar chocolate. It is crazy delicious. With our friends at Eater, we'd like to show you how they make it. And their beards.
A stark contrast to the vast industrial operations of Hershey, Nestle or just any other chocolate company you've ever heard of, they produce around 1,000 bars a day, hand-roasting in a small convection oven, using old school techniques and equipment, like a stone grinder. (With the exception of their winnowing machine, custom-made by a former aerospace engineer. A winnowing machine pulls the shells off the beans before they're ground, essentially.)
While the mega-corporate chocolate industry has looked for ways to make their chocolate even cheaper—going so far as to lobby the FDA so they can replace cocoa butter with vegetable oil and still call it chocolate—the Mast Brothers' chocolate is stripped down and natural. They don't add vanilla (or a chemical version), extra oils or butters, or emulsifiers. What that means is that you can taste the chocolate, and where it comes from—comparing a chocolate from Madagascar to one from Venezuela, you can taste the difference, like the terroir in wine or coffee.
A bar of Mast Brothers chocolate goes for around eight bucks, or you can get taste of it at restaurants like Thomas Keller's Per Se and the French Laundry, or the New York outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee in a mocha. Pricey, but it's worth it, if you love chocolate.