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Aug 8, 2011

Two Chocolate Garages

On Saturday we spent a really inspiring day in another chocolate garage in Palo Alto. We have our own garage, our lab, in East Palo Alto. But, The Chocolate Garage is just a few blocks away, founded by Sunita de Tourreil. We met Sunita a few months ago, and she’s been a wonderful neighbor. Her mission at The Chocolate Garage is to educate. She supports new makers, connecting them to other experts in the industry and introducing her customers to their bars. Her mission is to bring attention to “Happy Chocolate“- chocolate that tastes delicious, but also has integrity in its cacao sourcing and connection to the farmer. We really appreciate her approach. When our space is open in San Francisco, we also hope to have a large educational component of our factory operation. It’s rewarding and exciting to teach chocolate lovers about all the care and effort involved in making chocolate.

Because she’s our neighbor, it’s been very easy to drop by and visit Sunita. A few weeks ago, she came to our garage to try bars Todd brought back from the FCIA event in D.C. and to see our process for roasting test batches. Then on Saturday, Sunita hosted us during the Palo Alto Farmers’ Market. She holds open hours during the farmers’ market, and has many regulars that stop by after shopping for produce. It’s a nice space with comfortable chairs and couches, and it draws in people eager to taste new chocolate and learn about the process of making bars from the bean. Each Saturday she puts together a tasting, and I encourage you to drop by at some point. During the hours we were there, we met lots of her regulars and shared our bars. We chatted about our factory, but also got to talk about the delicious mulberries at the market and the way the market came about in the early 80’s. The Chocolate Garage has a great community.

After our morning with new customers, Alex Rast of Seventypercent.com dropped by to taste our bars as well. He was in town from England, and graciously offered to give us feedback and a lot of incredibly valuable information about process improvements and formal tastings. Alex works with Martin Christy and others at Seventypercent.com to give comprehensive reviews of chocolate bars. His palette is exceptional, but more impressive is his scientific knowledge of bringing out flavor from the bean. He had all kinds of insights, and we will undoubtedly use his feedback to improve our bars. Though, he did offer one piece of advice that we may ignore. He told us that the best way to cleanse your palette is with watery polenta, which he described as having the consistency of gruel. No doubt he’s right- maybe we should go ahead and give it a try! We look forward to keeping in touch with him. He’s a great resource, and we really appreciate the introduction from Sunita.


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