I wanted to personally make a follow-up response to the misleading, unsubstantiated and in many cases unsourced articles being circulated by the media about our business and be perfectly clear about a few key points:
Mast Brothers is a 100% bean to bar chocolate maker. Every chocolate bar made by our company that you have lovingly purchased since we opened our first factory, including those purchased for the coming holidays, was made “bean to bar”. Any claim or insinuation otherwise is simply false.
Mast Brothers has always been making chocolate from “bean to bar.” From the beginning (2007), my brother and I have produced a bean to bar line of chocolate with an obsessive attention to detail, meticulous craftsmanship, groundbreaking innovation and inspirational simplicity. Despite the best efforts of various competitors and “critics” to disparage us or pull us down, we are proud of our work and proud of the journey we took to get where we are today: We employ over 50 beautifully talented, hardworking and inspiring chocolate makers. We partner with family-owned specialty shops and renowned culinary institutions alike, across the globe. We deliver a superior bean to bar product to our customers.
Mast Brothers has been open and transparent about our experimentation, techniques and recipes since day one. To set the record straight, before we opened our first chocolate factory, my brother and I experimented and honed our craft constantly for nearly a year, which is typical for any entrepreneur, craftsman, and innovator. At that time, in addition to making chocolate from bean to bar, we also tested with couverture Valrhona. And despite wild speculations about our production levels or sales, we made no more than 200 or so bars a week, did not make a profit and generated a rather modest revenue, which we obtained primarily from setting up a folding table at a weekend market, the occasional wedding or special event. Additionally, we did not sell our chocolate bars for $10 but $5-$7 at the time. We have always been open and transparent about our chocolate, and have eagerly and honestly discussed our methods with inquiring customers, chefs, fellow chocolate makers and journalists. And while we never claimed to make all our chocolate exclusively from bean to bar in those early days, we did describe ourselves as a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Since we were in fact making chocolate from bean to bar, we honestly thought we could say as much. We sincerely apologize if you or any of our other loyal customers feel they were misled about the chocolate we made when our company was just getting off the ground.
That all said, having to write this letter saddens me more than anything. We have spent precious time away from our family on the week of Christmas to manage a senseless, mean-spirited “takedown” by determined individuals with an agenda to harm our reputation solely for the purpose of their commercial or professional gain. I would hope that the press covering these unfounded speculative allegations would examine the motives of those in the business of spreading this misinformation. It is very disappointing personally and professionally. Our wonderful team and our beloved partners have to go home for the holidays and try to explain to their families and friends that yes, indeed, Mast Brothers is actually making their own chocolate. This is not the chocolate industry that we wish to be a part of. To that end, we will continue, as we have always done, to not participate in chocolate industry conferences, conventions or competitions until the culture changes.
More importantly, however, we will work even harder to challenge, improve, and innovate. We will continue to focus on growing our business in an ethical, honest and transparent way. We will continue to buy hundreds of tons of cacao from the world’s great farms. And we will continue to deliver a superior bean to bar product to our customers for all to enjoy.
We wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday season.
CEO / Co-Founder
What is “Bean to Bar”?
“Bean to bar” is a phrase used to describe that the entire process of making the chocolate is done by the chocolate maker, including roasting the cocoa bean, winnowing, refining, tempering and molding. This results in a more authentic, high quality chocolate.
What is Couverture?
Couverture is a style of high quality chocolate (also made “bean to bar”) that often adds additional cocoa butter for a more buttery mouthfeel and to facilitate chocolate confectionary work.
Do you remelt chocolate?
No. We make all of our chocolate from bean to bar. This year alone we will have purchased around $500,000 worth of cacao from top farms.
How did you use couverture (such as Valrhona) in your experimental first year, before opening your factory?
Alongside making chocolate from bean to bar, we used couverture in countless experiments. We happily used it in scores of truffles, various confections, and pastries. Valrhona was one of many chocolate makers that inspired our early bean to bar efforts. Occasionally, we would resort to using couverture feves to seed these tempering batches, or use melted couverture to clean, flush or warm up our stone-grinders. Our early bar production was so minimal, around 200 bars a week, so we couldn’t afford to waste a drop. Even this hardly controversial act was done on a miniscule amount of chocolate and even though it technically was ‘bean to bar’, it wasn’t labeled ‘bean to bar’.
Do you or did you ever sell a chocolate bar as ‘bean to bar’ when it was remelted couverture?
No. We were proud of our bean to bar work and were eager to show it off but were always open and transparent about any auxiliary experiments.
Did you make chocolate from bean to bar in your first year?
Yes. My brother and I quit our day jobs in late 2007, and spent most of the next year experimenting with how to improve our chocolate products, produced consumer research and market testing, learned more about the intricacies in making chocolate, and discussed our business plan. During this time we settled on our recipes, company vision and even opened a factory.
Were you open and transparent about your experimental first year?
We have always been open and transparent about our chocolate, and have eagerly and honestly discussed our methods with inquiring customers, chefs, fellow chocolate makers and journalists. And while we never claimed to make all our chocolate exclusively from bean to bar in those early days, we did describe ourselves as a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, since we were in fact making chocolate from bean to bar.
Do you claim to be the first ever ‘bean to bar’ chocolate maker?
No. There have been countless interviews and reports dating back to our beginnings in which we say otherwise. We have even written about various chocolate makers that predate us (Patric and Amedei, in a New Yorker piece I wrote in 2008). We are however, one of the first in this bean to bar space and I do believe the first in New York.
What goes on at your Chocolate Factory and HQ that is on 46 Washington Avenue in Brooklyn?
It is a 100% bean to bar, beautiful chocolate factory that produces chocolate using the same techniques as is open to the public at our Brooklyn flagship in Williamsburg. This factory employs nearly 30 people in our HQ facility, from chocolate makers to bookkeepers. It also houses our inventory and fulfillment departments and our offices. It is not designed to facilitate the public on a walk-in basis.
Where do you source your beans?
Currently, we are sourcing beans from a variety of origins: Peru (including the famed porcelana bean), Venezuela (Chuao), Tanzania, Madagascar, Brazil and Papua New Guinea. We have sourced in the past from all around the world and have a queue of samples from new regions to explore for our 2017 collection and limited reserve bars.
Where can I find information on the contents of your chocolate?
Ingredients (including cacao origin) for each bar can be found on our website under each bar.
What does the future of Mast Brothers look like?
We are a growing business and the outlook for the future is positive. Despite some individuals with an agenda to harm our reputation solely for the purpose of their commercial or professional gain, we will work even harder to challenge, improve, and innovate. We will continue to focus on growing our business in an ethical, honest and transparent way. We will continue to buy hundreds of tons of cacao from the world’s great farms. And we will continue to deliver a superior bean to bar product to our customers for all to enjoy.
For all press inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org