By Jonathan Bender
The collaboration bars pair single origin chocolate with single origin coffee: Dominican Republic Milk Chocolate and Sumatra Karo Highlands, Venezuela Dark Chocolate with Columbia Finca Santa Maria and Madagascar Dark Chocolate with Ethiopian Deri Kochoha.
“There are so many chocolate notes in coffee and so many different chocolate flavors in coffee,” PT’s president and co-founder Jeff Taylor says. “We just looked for complimentary flavors.”
Taylor has been a regular customer of the local chocolatier. After recognizing Taylor’s name this past Christmas season, Christopher Elbow sent him an e-mail to see if there might be a way to work together.
“I’d been a big fan of their coffee, so I reached out,” Elbow says.
“When Christopher Elbow calls, you take that call,” Taylor says.
The two got together at PT’s at the Crossroads (310 Southwest Boulevard) in the end of January to cup a series of single origin coffees and begin the process of designing a chocolate bar infused with coffee.
“We figured out early on, there’s something here if we really think about it,” Elbow says.
Even before this collaboration, he already had a coffee chocolate bar in his lineup – a Dark Café bar that uses Broadway Roasting Company coffee with the shop’s custom dark chocolate blend. But Elbow wanted to find a way to make the coffee notes more distinct.
“This was about letting coffee take the front seat,” Elbow says. “The chocolate is the delivery vehicle.”
A few months later and a few blocks away, Taylor and Elbow had winnowed the coffees down to six varieties that they paired with 12 types of chocolate.
“The true genius of any chef is that they can combine flavors that bring the most out of everything,” Taylor says. “And that’s what [Elbow] does with his chocolates.”
To create the three current offerings, they grind the coffee as fine as possible and then let the ground coffee sit overnight in warm chocolate.
“We wanted to get as much of the volatile oils and aromatics of the coffee,” Elbow explains.
The coffee-infused chocolate is then heated back it up, before it is crystallized and tempered. After that, it’s poured into molds for the bars.
“I know it’s a chocolate bar, but I really wanted the flavors of the different coffees to shine. The hardest part was finding chocolate that didn’t overpower the delicate flavors like honey and lemon verbena and butterscotch in the coffee,” Elbow says.
Taylor suggests light roast fans try the dark chocolate Madagascar bar paired with Ethiopian coffee.
“It’s this really bright, beautiful chocolate with this almost citrus taste,” Elbow says.
Light roast drinkers might also reach for the Venezuelan bar made with Columbian coffee, which Elbow says is “focused on white grape and honey flavors.”
Taylor would recommend the milk chocolate and Sumatra coffee bar to those who like something a little more full-bodied, the coffee you might expect to arrive after dinner.
“The Sumatra is this big bold, manly coffee. It ended up taking the creaminess of the chocolate to balance it out,” Elbow says.
Elbow and Taylor are both thinking about future collaborations on chocolate bars.
“The bars will change as the years go on and we run out of coffees,” Taylor says. “We’ve also got new coffees coming in next year, so we did leave room to explore other flavors.”
[Image via Christopher Elbow]