I first learned about Mast Brothers Chocolate about a year ago. Another blogger (or was it a Pinterest board?) now lost in the sands of my memory mentioned the company and I'll be honest I was almost more intrigued by the packaging than I was by the contents. Who can resist clean, beautiful design? I figured/hoped any company that puts so much effort into creating such an appealing exterior must certainly put the same level of care into the chocolate within. Also, it's CHOCOLATE and by nature worthy of further study.
Some time later I also learned that Mast Brothers makes their chocolate just across the East River in Brooklyn and the company actually offers tours to the public. Sign me up! Or rather, take 10+ months to get your act together and finally buy tickets when your sister is in town. To be fair, Katherine is a fellow chocolate lover so this scouting mission was a perfect fit.
We headed to Williamsburg on a chilly Friday night for the tour and were greeted first by the scent of cocoa as we approached and next by the welcoming glow of the factory store. The word factory conjures Willy Wonka visions of industrial level machines, but the reality of Mast Brothers is much more down to earth.
They take a very hands-on approach, literally; from sorting the sacks of cocoa beans individually so the roast is even, to tasting every batch of chocolate, to molding and unmolding each bar. After the bars age it's time to wrap them in those colorful papers and apply the labels. All by hand! The amount of labor that goes into producing Mast Brothers Chocolate is amazing and yet even in the midst of the holiday push everyone we met was clearly happy to do it.
Our tour took a hands on approach too allowing us to smell the roasted cocoa beans, crunch through some nibs, taste and compare chocolate at different stages of the stone grinding process, and of course sample their 5 single origin flavors in the finished form.
The tasting especially made me think about chocolate in a different way. Much like wine or coffee or cheese there are nuances of flavor that driven by the soil, weather conditions, and the drying process. It was really a cool experience that I'd highly recommend for anyone who likes to see how things are made or just wants to learn a little more about chocolate as food, not just candy.
Mast Brother's Chocolate | 111 N 3rd Street | Brooklyn, New York 11211 | 718.388.2625