Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Tour of the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory

I now have something else that I can blame Nathan Branch for: my new love of Mast Brothers Chocolates. Nathan is the ultimate enabler, sending me links of fragrances to try, books to read, and foods to eat. On Friday evening, he sent me a link to an article about the Mast Brothers, Brooklyn residents (and brothers, obvs!) who were among the first in the country to start a chocolate factory that produced “bean to bar” chocolate: the brothers received their beans in their rawest state, and did all of the processing themselves - and packaging, and branding, etc. I Googled their website, fell in love with what I saw, and immediately booked myself a tour of their chocolate factory for the next afternoon. 

Nathan, it was the best $10 I’ve spent in a long, long time!

The Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory is located on N.3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the commute from my job to the factory was quick and easy, and I wondered how I had never heard of it prior to Nathan’s message. Clearly, I don’t spend enough time in Brooklyn! The hour-long tour was scheduled for 4:30pm, but with about twenty minutes to kill, I stopped first at the factory’s Tasting Room + Store (a few doors down from the factory). 

The decor and displays in the Tasting Room + Store are gorgeous: chic and minimalistic, and I loved the paper used the wrap the bars. There was a truly stunning display of small cakes, macarons, and truffles, but I went right to the round table where samples of some of the bars were available. The Mast Brothers Brooklyn Blend bar that I tried was quite nice: deep, a teensy bit grainy, and rich. 

The tour started in a timely fashion. Derek, our adorable tour guide, provided us with water, aprons, and hairnets. He was affable and quite knowledgeable about the chocolates he helped produce, and he was patient with all of our questions. The tour started with a video of the Mast Brothers discussing their philosophy. I was quite taken with this quote from Rick Mast: “To make great chocolate, one needs two things: the best ingredients and the best execution.” The brothers get their beans from co-ops in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize, Madagascar, and Papau New Guinea. They use organic cane sugar or maple sugar, and they strive to “connect consumers to the chocolate, straight from its source.” I really appreciate that, as I’m trying in my own life to shop indie and shop local as much as possible. Also, the reasonable prices ($7 a bar) don’t hurt either! 

The physical tour of the factory began after this video presentation. Some pictures of the tour are below! 


After the tour, we had a (very generous!!) tasting of the Origins line of Mast Brothers Chocolates (the seven bars represent the seven locations they obtain their beans from), and then I went back to the Tasting Room to purchase some bars! 

I ended up coming home with two bars of chocolate, the Papau New Guinea and the La Red. All of the Mast Brothers Chocolates are dark, and are around 70% - the darkest is 75%, and it’s phenomenal: bright and sweeter than one would expect. The Papau New Guinea came home with me because it has a smokiness (lent to it by a double roasting) which makes it taste of hickory bacon. The La Red, from the DR, came home with me because it has an irresistibly juicy, fruity flavor. 

I hope that if you’re ever in Brooklyn, you get to visit the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. It was an hour well-spent (I came home smelling of divine chocolate, and happy as a clam), and part of the $10 fee gets donated to a charity of your choosing on their website! If you’d like to see more pictures from my tour, please click here to be directed to my Flickr account

4 love notes:

Kenny said...

<3 Chocolate! <3

Joan said...

Oh wow! I've gotta go there next time I'm in NYC. I love all kinds of chocolate, especially milk with a bit of fruity flavor.

“To make great chocolate, one needs two things: the best ingredients and the best execution.” This would make the best anything, right?

Nathan Branch said...

*pshaw!* You LIVE in the city of bad influences -- I just give you a nudge every once in a while in the form of "Why haven't you visited this chocolate shop yet?" or "How come there are no pictures of that ice cream place on your website?!" . . . you know, normal, non-bossy topics of conversation like that.

But thank you (!) for visiting Mast Brothers and bringing back some pictures. I love their whole schtick, from the wonderful handmade chocolate to the retro packaging to the Brooklyn location, and if I can't be there myself, the next best thing is a report from you!

Lucy said...

Yay for our Brooklyn chocolate brothers!