The more people turn away from mass produced food conjured up by scientists in undisclosed labs, the more people are embracing edibles and drinks made by hand with love in small batches from tangible sources. Butchers, bakers, and in this case chocolate makers, are turning their passion into successful businesses. It’s a movement and borderline obsession in San Francisco, so it’s no surprise I discovered Mast Brothers Chocolate in a Hayes Valley candy shop last month.
Billed as craft chocolate, the Mast Brothers pay close attention and appreciate every detail in the chocolate making process starting from the agricultural source of the beans to the packaging. Don’t believe me? They once chartered a schooner to sail 20 metric tons of beans from the Dominican Republic to Brooklyn so they could participate in that part of the production process.
The packaging is what caught my eye in the candy shop. Each bar is dressed in thick high-quality paper cloaked in gorgeous patterns and they’re wrapped and labeled by hand. They’re also stamped with a batch number.
Even with a sticker price of $10 ($7 from the factory in NYC), I couldn’t resist the temptation. Yeah, this chocolate isn’t cheap, but it’s not Nestle or Hershey. The two brothers, Rick and Michael, spare no expense and the price is a reflection of their demand for quality. I look at these types of items as rare treats and respect the amount of work and money that goes into their creation.
Mast Brothers offers two different types of bars, those derived from a single geographical source, such a Papua New Guinea, and blends they produce in partnership with other companies like Maine Sea Salt. They’ve also developed their own blend.
So how does the chocolate taste? I’m not going to tell you they’re the best chocolate bars I’ve ever had since I’m no expert, but they’re pretty darn good. Good enough for me to seek out the Mast Brothers factory on a recent trip to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg last weekend. That’s where everything is made and the whole production process is on display. I bought the three bars you see above. Sorry, I didn’t have my camera in hand.
The only one I’ve cracked into so far is the Serrano Pepper. It’s a wonderful dark chocolate and the pepper is quite prominent. I’m eating it at the moment and trying not to scarf down the whole thing.