Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers caused a bit of a stir earlier this year when they announced that they would be opening a factory in London. The new factory, café and shop is set to open in early February in Shoreditch and will be London’s first commercial bean-to-bar chocolate factory.
In preparation for the grand opening, the Mast Brothers team have taken up residence down the road in the Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. Based in the lobby cafe Bulldog Edition, you’ll find a full range of bars on offer along with doughnuts topped with Mast Brothers chocolate and their newest creation “brewed chocolate”.
Brewed chocolate is really just another name for cocoa tea; an infusion made with cocoa nibs and water. The nibs are finely ground by hand (grind too quickly and heat will melt the cocoa butter in the beans) and put into something that can best be described as a large tea bag. Infusion is slow and can take up to ten minutes.
The result is a drink that has some of the characteristics of fresh coffee with the aroma of hot chocolate. The flavours of the origin cocoa beans used come through to the drink, but not always in the most obvious way.
The Papua New Guinea beans have a smoky flavour that’s very evident in the chocolate, but much more subtle in the drink. Whereas in the Madagascar variety, all the acidity and citrus notes come through, but very little of the sweetness. You can of course sweeten your brewed chocolate or add milk, but I preferred the unadulterated version.
It’s all very interesting and fascinating to compare different origins, but the process isn’t perfect yet. For one thing, it takes a very long “brew” time to extract flavour from cocoa nibs. They are solid chunks of bean and about 50% fat, so you can’t just use standard coffee making equipment. It also takes about the same weight in nibs as it would to make a 100g bar of chocolate, so it’s not particularly efficient.
It’s something that’s worth trying if you’re in the area, but I think it will take some refinement of the brewing process for it to really catch on.
It’s not all about the brewed chocolate though. These doughnuts are filled with Chantilly cream and topped with grated Brooklyn Blend chocolate. As is the trend at the moment, they have a lot of filling packed into them, so I liked the fact that it wasn’t overly sweet like some of the doughnuts lately.
I happily demolished this one in no time – although I did manage to make a bit of a mess. If it was down to me, I would have added more chocolate though. More chocolate is always a good idea.
Speaking of more chocolate, the final thing that Mast Brothers have brought to Ace Hotel is a collaborative chocolate bar. The is a 64% blend made with maple syrup and a little milk powder. Technically it’s a milk chocolate, which is a relatively new thing for Mast Brothers, but something we’ll be seeing more of in the future.
I wasn’t expecting much from a co-branded bar, but as it turns out, it’s really rather enjoyable. There’s a gentle fruitiness to the blend and that touch of milk powder just gives a slightly creamy, malty edge. I could happily munch on this bar while enjoying a brew.
It’s available exclusively from Ace Hotel, so if you want to try it, you’ll have to get down to Shoreditch in the next month. After that, I suspect it may be gone forever.
Mast Brothers @ Bulldog Edition
100 Shoreditch High Street
London E1 6JQ
Open Daily, 6:30am – 6pm