Middle West Chocolate

sourcing, roasting, & crafting bean to bar chocolate in the heart of downtown Tulsa


Our story, like any good story has to start at the beginning.  Unlike many, though, our chocolate story starts with specialty coffee.


Our History

As long as I can remember Katie and I have both had a love and appreciation for both thoughtfully prepared food, and the people who craft it.  Whether it be dates to the farmer’s market, or building friendships with chefs and bartenders, an appreciation for intentionality in food and drink has been a major theme in our relationship.  To this end in the fall of 2012, we opened Foolish Things Coffee Company to create a place where we could serve people by offering the best possible product available.

There is a long tradition of pretension in the craft coffee world and we wanted to torpedo that model. Over the years we have distilled all of our narratives down to one succinct mission: Pursue excellence in craft and hospitality. This is what we’re about and what we will carry into any adventure we pursue. When we started thinking about a second project, we naturally gravitated to roasting coffee. With a background in manufacturing and a passion for craft food and drink, this was the natural second step in scaling our business. It is an industry (like most burgeoning craft-centric industries) that evolved from a commodity industry, and grew into the craft industry: one that was more focused on transparency, complexity, and quality of ingredients.

 

 

As we continued to research and plan, we came to the conclusion that roasting coffee might not be the perfect fit for us.  Foolish Things is unique because it allows us to focus all our attention on showcasing the best in the industry.  We love introducing people to experiences they haven’t had before and in coffee, there is an incredible landscape of unknown roasters unfamiliar to Tulsans.   

So, what we chose to do is keep Foolish Things exactly the same that it is (a café featuring a rotating list of the best, most intentional roasters in the industry) and launch a new project in a burgeoning craft industry that we love as much as coffee.  This is where bean to bar chocolate comes in.  As a craft industry it has followed the trajectory of both craft beer and specialty coffee. All this is to say, we are incredibly excited to bring our passion, commitment to quality, and transparent business practices to an industry we so admire and respect. 

 


Process

From the beginning we knew if we were going to dive into chocolate, we were going to go all in... meaning we would start with raw cacao and produce chocolate bars from scratch.  This takes much more work, but it is well worth the effort.  The process of producing chocolate from the raw bean is a bit more complicated than you might think:

  • Sourcing

This is the first step and probably the most critical part in the production process.  We are committed to sourcing the highest quality, responsibly produced cacao in the world.  We do this to make sure the farmers we work with are paid significantly more than market to ensure they are paid a fair wage for their hard work and excellent product.  Transparency is key in this step of the process 

  • Roasting

After the beans are sorted to remove foreign objects, (think twigs, broken or bad beans) it is time to roast.  We use a repurposed coffee roaster to achieve the perfect roast profile for each bean we use.  

 

 

  • Cracking and Winnowing

After the beans have been roasted and cooled, we coarsely crush the beans to remover the outer shell from the nib within.  We then separate the outer shell from the nib through a process called winnowing.  The nibs are collected for chocolate and the husks are collected and given to a local organic urban farm for mulch. 

  • Refining/ Conching

The nibs, along with organic cane sugar are refined in a granite stone mill to create cocoa liquor.  This process creates heat which aids in releasing cocoa butter and creating a smooth texture and developed flavor.  

  • Tempering/Molding

Once the refining/ conching process is complete we have a complete batch of untempered chocolate!  We allow this block to cool and age and once ready we temper it and hand pour it into molds.  At this point each bar is hand wrapped and labeled and put on a shelf for your munching pleasure.