February 13, 2015 | Posted by The B-Team
Here's what we knew about Mast Brothers before visiting their Brooklyn headquarters: their bean-to-bar chocolate tasted great, their packaging was the slickest in town, and they had beards.
Here's what we know after spending an afternoon watching them roast and winnow cocoa beans, grind them into chocolate, brew the nibs in a siphon to make chocolate tea, and be generally obsessed with all things cacao: these guys are changing the chocolate game -- and the revolution is delicious.
Rick Mast making brewed chocolate
We met Rick at the Brew Bar, an airy shop a few doors down from the Mast Brothers flagship in Williamsburg, for a taste of brewed chocolate. The tea-like concoction of ground nibs steeped in water is a whole different way of experiencing the stuff -- on the nose, it's pure, sweet chocolate-ness; on the palate, it's all the flavor notes you percieve in chocolate (citrus, caramel, smoke, berries, etc), without the creamy richness.
Hot chocolate + bread and chocolate (ganache spread on toast)
Speaking of creamy richness, there's wildly delicious hot chocolate at the brew bar, too, made by steaming shaved chocolate with milk, and a slab of She Wolf Bakery toast slathered with chocolate ganache. Their full line of bars is for sale, including new milk chocolates made with sheep, cow and goat milks. (How cool is that?)
The sorting, roasting, winnowing, grinding, aging, tempering and bar-making magic happens a few doors down. Much of the chocolate on the market is made from cocoa and cocoa butter, which are separated during the production process and later recombined. Not so at Mast: after roasting and winnowing the beans, they go straight into custom-made grinders, where they become a creamy, silky paste -- et voilà, chocolate!
Once cooled, the chocolate is aged then tempered, shaped, and packed. Aging isn't an industry standard, but neither is much of what these guys are doing...and they've found that 30 days of aging is the optimal time for the texture and taste, pre-tempering. Keep an eye out for some long-term aged chocolates (5 years!) coming soon.
New Yorkers: We wholly recommend stopping by the Mast Brothers' shop for a tour (offered daily) and a chocolate feast. Londoners: You're in luck -- their first London outpost, with a production facility, shop and brew bar, opens on Valentine's Day.
Mast Brothers Factory & Brew Bar
111 & 105 N. 3rd St.