Bean To Bar Chocolate
An Interview with the owner of Adam’s Chocolate
By Maria Aragao
While on my college break in Nyack, New York, a small town 20 miles north of New York City, I stumbled upon a hidden gem. Adam’s Chocolate. A quaint cafe on the corner of Burd Street that caught my eye. As I walked in, I was greeted by Adam Berrios himself, manning the bar. I didn’t intend on conducting an interview, but after trying their delicious hot chocolate, I just had to know more.
Let me explain a little background on the bean to bar movement. Chocolate makers, those who work with cacao beans, are on the rise. Fifteen years ago, there was a limited number of bean to bar chocolate makers in the country. Now, according to food writers, there are hundreds. Bean to bar chocolate makers source cacao beans and bring out the bean's sweetness. As opposed to industrial chocolate, made by big companies. Not only do these larger industrial makers source poor quality cacao, it’s also farmed in huge mono-culture projects that strip the soil of nutrients and are harvested by workers that are underpaid.
Raw cacao has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties. It has been proven to help lower blood pressure, improve brain health, improve cardiovascular health, aid weight loss, help prevent cancer and improve overall mood.
People point to bean to bar chocolate as a sign of quality. Adam introduced his quality chocolate to the small town of Nyack. Being that it is an artistic and creative hub, he fit right in. His café even earned the title of ‘Nyack’s Chocolate Factory.’ Although his story does not start there, it starts in Costa Rica. Adam went to Costa Rica and learned the entire chocolate making process. From climbing the trees to cutting the cacao. Now, he uses cacao to make chocolate bars, hot chocolate, espresso and cappuccinos.
Is there ever a day where you find yourself looking for a foodie adventure outside of New York City? Make sure Adam’s Chocolate is a stop you make. I had the pleasure to sit down with owner Adam Berrios and discuss the business.
SUSTAIN: How did Adam’s Chocolate come to be? What would you say your story is?
ADAM: I fell in love with making chocolate. I moved to Costa Rica and was introduced to it by the people out there. I never really thought it would turn into a business, butI knew that I wanted to keep making chocolate. While I was there, I started doing research on other chocolate businesses to have a better understanding of what was ahead. What is interesting is that at that time, it was the beginning of the ‘craft chocolate movement’ in America. Like, Mast Brothers, Dick Taylor Chocolate and Dandelion Chocolate. Then, I just started doing research on how to make chocolate here. There’s only a certain amount of processing [of the bean to bar] there, they don’t really make chocolate bars. I was fortunate enough to learn from indigenous groups in Costa Rica how to make the chocolate. I’d climb the trees, use a blade attached to a stick and cut the cacao.
SUSTAIN: How did you bring that process here? From Costa Rica to Nyack.
ADAM: There’s only so much you can do out here. You can’t grow the cacao yourself. So, you must do a lot of processing in the countries it comes from. The growing, harvesting and fermenting of the cacao is done before it arrives to me. After it's been sun-dried, I get them in big bags, and I roast them. That’s the first step here. Then, de-shell and grind the beans. The beans go into a tempering machine, (an electronic mixing and heating pan) for about three to four days. The tempering machine stabilizes the fats in the beans, so the chocolate bar doesn’t melt very easily and allows for a longer shelf life. Composting the remains is going to be our next step.
SUSTAIN: What’s different about bean to bar chocolate?
ADAM: It’s pure. It’s simplified. My chocolate is 85% cacao. The ingredients are organic sugar and cacao beans, that’s it.
SUSTAIN: Would you say Adam’s Chocolate practices sustainability?
ADAM: Yes. Our packaging isn’t plastic. It’s a corn-based packaging, so it’s bio-degradable. Otherwise we don’t create very much waste. My biggest waste right now are the lids for our to- go cups which are plastic. With time we’d like the eliminate the use of lids all together.
SUSTAIN: Does Adam’s Chocolate stand out from other bean to bar chocolate cafés?
ADAM: I’d say so. I make multi-use chocolate. It’s a limited selection, but there’s a lot you can do with our chocolate. I get a lot of health-conscious people coming in that’ll buy chocolate for their pre-workout smoothies or meals. The chocolate comes in the format of a bar, but I encourage people to cook with it, melt it or shave it onto things. People buy it for all different reasons, its versatile. It’s a food it’s not just chocolate. Historically, it’s been like this. I feel as if I’m reintroducing it to my community as more than just a candy. It has antioxidants and is good for your overall well being..
SUSTAIN: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
ADAM: Adam’s Chocolate wants to emphasize simplicity. The café is based on a kissaten, a Japanese-style tea room that is also a coffee shop. It’s kind of just one guy, limited seating and everything is made by him in-house. Come by if you’re looking for a different café experience.