I recently toured and sampled chocolates at Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate in the Krog Street Market where I not only learned about the bean-to-bar chocolate creation process but witnessed the tremendous amount of labor and love that Xocolatl puts into its bars.
Xocolatl is a small-batch chocolatier that creates its chocolates inside a tiny stall in KSM. Husband-and-wife team Matt Weyandt and Elaine Read founded the company with the goal of providing a “sense of contentment and adventure” through indulgent, rich, flavorful dark chocolate.
The cacao beans that form the basis of the chocolate come from small farms throughout the Americas and East Africa, many of which Weyandt and Read have personally visited. After the dried beans arrive at KSM, the Xocolatl team sifts through each load by hand, removing flattened beans and any debris. This laborious process removes unwanted matter, ensuring that the finished chocolate consists of only the highest quality cacao.
In their tiny space, the team roasts the beans at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, cracks them in a grinder powered by a drill, winnows them through a makeshift sifting contraption, and stone-grinds them for three days, during which time imported organic cane sugar from Brazil is added in controlled amounts. This complicated process ultimately generates luxurious chocolate liquor with no superfluous ingredients like added cocoa butter. Weyandt and Read rely on natural flavors such as coffee, peppermint, sea salt, and coconut milk to create chocolates that complement the cacao perfectly.
Try the Kissed Mermaids bar, which is a dark chocolate coconut bar with vanilla-infused sea salt. The hint of salt and vanilla perfectly balances the coconut undertones in the chocolate. If the festive, seasonally featured “Americana” is in stock, try it! The bar features notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice – reminiscent of fall holiday celebrations.
Note: Xocolatl also has an ethical mission statement; the cacao base is sustainably and ethically grown and harvested.