ChocoSol isn't just about making chocolate. Its philosophy, Mathieu McFadden tells me, is about "community, social enterprise, and traditional methods."
UPDATE FEB 2014: Chocosol is now at 1131 St. Clair Avenue West.
Reminiscing about my childhood visits to chocolate factories, I was expecting to be overpowered by the aroma of churning chocolate as I passed through the bright yellow door. Not so. I climbed up the flights of stairs and was taken right into ChocoSol's kitchen. Simple, clean, and traditional. Perfectly representative of what the ChocoSol community stands for.
The enterprise was born out of Michael Sacco's experiences in Mexico. There he learned about the qualities of various native cacao beans and traditional processes of grinding and preparation. ChocoSol uses those same methods, including stone-grinding its fair trade beans, at its Yonge and Wellesley kitchen.
"Everything is open-sourced and made with very little processing," McFadden tells me. "We start right from the bean, and our process is low shear and low heat. The result is an earthier chocolate, with a lot more flavour."
ChocoSol has 20 varieties of cacao in its kitchen. The key, says McFadden, is pairing the right ingredients together. I try its 75% dark chocolate, which has a rich, full-bodied, almost fermented taste. "That's the Porcelana," McFadden says, breaking me a piece of the bean. "It has sort of a red wine taste."
ChocoSol's chocolate bars and sipping chocolate are available for purchase right from their kitchen, though it does much of its selling at local farmer's markets. The team tries to use as little packaging as possible, and while the kitchen does have some hemp bags and other products in which you can take home your chocolate ($20 minimum purchase), they encourage you to bring your own Tupperware or some other reusable container.
"We want this to be as environmentally friendly as possible," McFadden tells me. Actually, the team is in the midst of creating what they hope will be Toronto's greenest kitchen. The zero-waste kitchen, which would also produce other products such as tortillas, granola, and pie, would rely on petal, solar, and other renewable sources of power, as well as serve as a community hub and learning environment. Though McFadden says the location is "top-secret," he hopes it will be up and running in time for summer solstice.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak