I've had a little stash of something amazing, tucked away in a safe place and very soon I will share this little gem with a few lucky people.
In the world of fine chocolate there are different jobs and passions and each of these can complement the other. Each is a craft in itself and each makes the world a happier place. For simplicity we can divide this into three VERY broad categories.
THE COCOA FARMER \\ THE CHOCOLATE MAKER \\ THE CHOCOLATIER
The beauty of this generation is the desire to scale down the chocolate chain and create beautiful small batches of craft chocolate or artisan truffles with a closer connection to where they come from. From the cocoa farm, to the maker, to the chocolatier, to the consumer, everyone is becoming more connected.
Before I became intrigued with chocolate I never considered where it came from. I was never a chocolate lover (I now know that is because the American "chocolate" I was eating wasn't really chocolate.) I thought fine chocolate was Hershey's Dark Chocolate or Dove. I didn't know it could go deeper than that.
I love creating truffles and pretty bites of small chocolate luxuries but my favorite chocolate to eat is bean-to-bar chocolate from craft chocolate makers. I am a bar girl through and through. Don't give me anything fancy, just give me a good bar with a delicious flavor.
In craft chocolate each bar has a personality, just like their maker. I have had some that the maker enjoys playing with the roast, creating different roast profiles to change the flavor of a specific bean, I have had some that it is all about the origin and the story connected to it and I have had some that take you to a new level of love and respect for this beautiful bean that we all enjoy.
And now, I am excited to introduce you to a chocolate maker that is one of my favorites and had definitely increased my love and respect for chocolate . She is a SLOW-batch, craft chocolate maker, a Mama, has been a cheerleader to me when I was stressed and overwhelmed and who is really a ROCK STAR in the craft chocolate industry. She calls the "ever-so-pleasant Willamette valley of Oregon" home where she runs the amazing Map Chocolate Co.
Say hello to
\\ MACKENZIE OF MAP CHOCOLATE \\
PHOTO FROM MAP CHOCOLATE
Mackenzie was kind enough to answer a few of my quirky questions and also kind enough to ship me a mixed box of her amazing chocolate to share with you! Mackezie's bars are unique, beautiful works of art, from the beautiful packaging to the heartfelt story tucked away inside each bar. It is for sure a treat to enjoy Map Chocolate.
Just a side note, thanks to Mackenzie I now know that it is CRAFT chocolate, not just BEAN-TO-BAR chocolate. See... you learn something new everyday!
// MEET THE MAKER //
A few nosy questions I had for Mackenzie...
How did you get started in chocolate?
I met John of Chocolate Alchemy (who lives here in Eugene) and he showed me his warehouse with over 30 origins of beans. It blew me away! I never knew there was more than one type of cocoa bean, much less that they all taste very different from each other.
What you love most about chocolate?
I love chocolate for the unique flavor--it's why I favor darker %s, because most often when we eat chocolate what we "taste" is sugar, not the cacao. It's like the difference in a wine cooler and a really good Pinot Noir.
Something unique about you/ your chocolate?
I press my own cocoa butter from each origin. (That's huge, folks...HUGE)
What is the one chocolate you can't live without?
The one maker: Rozsavolgyi. It is the only chocolate that I can eat an entire bar of! and if I ever have it, I do.
The one origin I use: Belize, Toledo District. (note to self...try this!)
What is the most important thing you think people need to know about chocolate and the industry??
That all chocolate is made bean to bar--the term refers to a process of taking the beans and making them into chocolate. Hersheys is b2b, Callebaut, etc etc and so is Map. Bean to bar small makers like Map use the term to distinguish that we are actually making the chocolate we use, not buying pre-made chocolate/couverture, and then re-melting it. But Craft Chocolate is where it gets different--the intention is to use better beans, most often make the chocolate with a single origin, so the flavor of each origin can be experienced. Big cocoa has "taught" us what chocolate tastes like--which is why it mostly all tastes the same no matter what manufacturer has made it. It is like taking a bunch of different apples and making cheap apple juice, vs taking a Fuji or Granny Smith or an heirloom apple, and making a pie where you really taste that unique apple. So often at first the taste of craft chocolate is a shock--but that is true of any real food, when we aren't used to it!
THANK YOU MACKENZIE FOR SHARING YOUR TALENTS WITH US!
Make sure you check out Map Chocolate to see all the chocolate goodness they offer, from bars to hot chocolate to cold brew chocolate it is a choco-holic's dream!
PHOTO FROM MAP CHOCOLATE WEBSITE
If you would like to reserve a bar of Map Chocolate before they go public next month, send me a message! Also, if you have a Bean-to-Bar Craft chocolate maker you would love to try, let me know!