I am just saying, but I think I might have a new favorite chocolate. At least for now.
If there were one word I could use to describe this company it would be passion. The owners Dana and Mark are very passionate about their chocolate, their process of getting to where they are, the technique of making their chocolate and the flavor. Aside from a lifelong love for chocolate, Dana and Mark really started considering chocolate because they wanted something sweet and complimentary to go with the coffee that is part of a different business.
Aside from dreaming about chocolate, the entire process of Millcreek Cacao Roasters from idea to bar took about 6 months. The process first began in a course by Ecole Chocolat from Canada where they completed a blind taste of several different types of chocolate. There they selected the chocolate from Ecuador as a taste that they preferred, which is the cacao of Arriba Nacional a variety of the species Theobroma Cacao. From there they traveled to Ecuador to establish relations with a single farmer that produces their cocoa beans as well as visits to other areas to meet with manufacturers and obtain necessary equipment. I especially admire chocolate makers that take care of the farmers who work so hard to provide their product.
During our visit Dana and Mark took us through the visual process of their chocolate from bean to bar. This was the absolute highlight of the visit, Mark who is an international educator explained their process fantastically and made sure we got to see, feel and taste the entire process. Although nothing was currently active they took us through each step of making chocolate. Once they receive the beans they still hand pick the ones they use and throw out those that might not be perfect. They then complete the process of roasting using a modified coffee bean roaster. Next they remove the nibs from the cacao beans and mill them for several days with additional ingredients (the secret stuff) to create the chocolate liquor. Of course if you know chocolate, next you know the liquor is then tempered (cooled) and formed into bars.
I thought I knew the basic chocolate process but there are 2 things I don’t think I really recognized until this tour:
- The amount of work that goes into removing nibs from the cacao beans after roasting. The roasting does weaken the shell so it is quite easy to break, but this is done individually for every bean.
- The process of tempering (cooling chocolate slowly) is complete when the particles are lined up. Dana and Mark keep a microscope on their front desk just so they can verify this process at any given time.
As I mentioned we got to taste the process. We tasted the chocolate nib as well as the finished product. The chocolate nib is as you would expect, a bit bitter but rich in the true chocolate taste. The chocolate was amazing. Dana and Mark have hand selected the beans they use and have hand crafted the process from there. The chocolate is amazingly smooth, and almost creamy. Dana mentioned an appreciation for European Chocolates and wanted a similar texture in their chocolate.
I also asked Dana and Mark what the hardest thing about chocolate making was and what their biggest success was. The hardest thing they said was not enough time. Their biggest success they said was being able to keep a balance in life. To this day, they are careful about keeping balance between working hard and playing hard. Similar to Chocolate Dad and myself, they love to cycle whether on pavement, cobblestone or dirt so we had some good conversation about that too. I also can relate about not enough time in the day, but I guess that is what keeps life interesting!
Sorry for the many pictures! But when someone lets me loose as a photographer, I take full advantage.
Thank you to Dana and Mark for having us over for a visit. Stay tuned to Chocolate Friday for more of Millcreek Cacao Roasters!