I’m not a chocolate fan, but I thought that a recent Quartz article about Mast Brothers “hipster” chocolate was interesting. Apparently their marketing is way better than their $10 “bean to bar” chocolate. Has anyone tried it?
An even more detailed takedown, referenced in the Quartz article:
Thx, a good and sensational read. I don’t know them, and have never taste their chocolate, but I have a few bags of Valrhona chocolate discs that I normally used to make cakes. Tomorrow I will buy a few bar molds and some nice papers and start my chocolate business.
Joke apart, I recently do start to make my chocolate, playing with adding nuts, or ganache with alcohol and fruits. While Valrhona is considered as a good chocolate for cakes and pastries. Using them for remelting into another form, I find the taste too simple and a bit bland. And they have only few tastes sold for cooking. They do have another range more exquisite taste, and more expensive too.
Both linked pieces were fascinating reads. I’m always intrigued by those who figure out how to mislead others (motivation, what they do, etc.): duplicity is rather fascinating, and rather disturbing at the same time.
Ok, let’s do some calculation here, I bought my bag of chocolate at a price of $16.25 for 1 kg (14 bars), the Mast bar the selling price is $10 for 70 g, the cost for each bar is only $1.16 It’s a 88.4% of profit. I didn’t buy whole sale price, and with packaging, I think they make at least 60-70% profit. Pure greed, disgusting.
Money is a strong motivator for many. I’m disappointed by what they have done, but at the same time I have to admit I’m also impressed by how well they put this together. All salesmanship and distracting the buyer. Manipulative, but people fell for the hype.
Picked up by The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/19/mast-brothers-chocolate-scandal
If they’ve been using Valrhona and passing it off as made from the bean by them, then they are completely full of shit.
But I do have a certain appreciation for other makers of expensive chocolate bars, handmade or bean to bar especially, because as the artisan chocolate industry has grown, people have gotten used to paying more for tastes darker and more complex than Hershey’s.
As for the cost aspect, the grand cru couvertures are more expensive. I buy a handful of different couvertures from Felchlin and Valrhona, ranging in price from $6.50 to $12.50 per pound, wholesale. Packaging adds up - for the bars I make, the inner foil is 5 cents, I finally bought enough outer wrappers at once to get them down to about 25 cents, and the ingredients stickers add a little more. So for a 35 gram bar of Valrhona Dulcey with almonds and salt, my ingredient and packaging costs are already about $1.50, not including the labor to produce or package it. If I doubled my cost to set wholesale price and my retailers doubled it again, my tiny bars would be at least $8, which I think is ridiculous, so I have a lower margin and I suggest my wholesalers also not do a 100% mark-up. I’m hoping to get more efficient and have better margins as I grow, but the thing I find funny is how some people understand the struggle and support me as I get established, but I have one wholesale customer who frequently asks for discounts and complains that they are not making enough money off me. They are in the business of shipping curated boxes from small chocolatiers, but they still don’t seem to grasp that people like mine the best because I use really good chocolate and really good chocolate is expensive, and that handmade means made by these two hands that are typing this now. They want to make the money but don’t understand what goes into making the chocolate. Or maybe I really can charge more and I need to get over my ideals about affordability.
I’m not defending the Mast Bros’ deception in any way, just saying that good chocolate is expensive, whether you re-form couverture or start from the bean. While their prices may be high, that may be what it actually costs to pay themselves, buy equipment, have printing and cutting dies designed, etc.
in the NYT today
I must say I had no idea there was such a “world” of artisan chocolatiers but it makes sense.
What a couple hipster douchebags I find their whole schtick just icky. Sorry to be snarky but everything about these guys rubs me the wrong way for so many reasons.
Its worth nothing that Dallasfoods also published a similar investigation into Noka Chocolate’s questionable manufacturing and business practices some years ago. Noka since folded.
My local artisan chocolate shop owner (Sunita de Tourreil) forwarded an article published today on Quartz on why great artisan chocolate is more costly to make compared to the mass market chocolate and ‘chocolate’, and why it is worth it.
A small bean to bar chocolate maker speaks out
That is a really interesting article. Thanks for sharing! He really touches on some very heavy topics such as how the world is homogenizing the food supply (supported by government subsidies) which limits the variety of vegetables, fruits, etc that are grown. There are some farmers locally here in the Bay Area that buck that trend luckily, but it’s such an unfortunate state of affairs. People who care about really savoring real, authentic food and flavors are becoming rarer and rarer it seems.