Oh, it's enchanting to be sure, but you don’t need a golden ticket to get into this chocolate factory. You can sip on a freshly brewed pour-over or mocha while you watch the mesmerizing stream of silky-fresh chocolate flowing down the roll mill, and if they happen to be in-house roasting their beans that day, the aroma will bring you to your knees (Augustus Gloop never seemed so reasonable). A lucky few of our COLLECTIVE crew recently paid a visit to the Park City headquarters of Ritual Chocolate Factory & Cafe. The artisanal chocolate bars you see in stockists across the Wasatch (Caputo's, Whole Foods and Atticus Coffee, Books and Teahouse, to name a few) are being handmade right here, bean to bar. Out of nothing more than a desire for good, old world chocolate--and a bit of a curiosity for what that meant, exactly--founders Robbie Stout and Anna Davies began making the rich, delicious stuff from scratch in their home. Cut to today, and the duo is among the handful of top artisanal chocolate makers in the nation (that's all 50, folks). To say they know their stuff would be a world of an understatement, so we counted ourselves fortunate to attend a private chocolate tasting, in which they schooled us on the ins and outs of chocolate from tree to fruit; from bean to terroir; and on the deliciously-subtle notes of stone fruit. (Chocolate, like coffee, wine, and cheese, is a refined culture, with tannins and flavor notes--so eating it is a sign of seasoned maturity.) Robbie and Anna put the whole biz into perspective for us, showed us the bigger picture, and explained just why handmade chocolate is so special. And yes, we do consider ourselves connoisseurs, now.
The difference with Ritual's chocolate is in the quality, which starts with the land and the cocoa farmers. Robbie and Anna have made serious connections with the agricultural side of the business (the Mayans, and many other ancient indigenous cultures, considered the cocoa bean to be sacred and revered--the blood of the earth), and even the name ‘Ritual’ comes from just this concept: getting back to the land. They source beans from farms all over the world in order to make some of the best chocolate you’ve eva tasted. Most mass-producing chocolate makers today only use cocoa as a means for coloring the rest of the god-knows-what ingredients the put in their bars. At Ritual, you’ll never put anything in your mouth but the unique flavor of the cocoa bean mixed with pure cane sugar (except when they do ridiculously amazing things like add sea salt or coffee). Every bar they sell is über unique with entirely different flavor profiles. These charming chocolatiers have our seal of approval, and we’re delighted they’ve chosen Park City as the spot for their growing business (and fingers crossed they'll mosey on down from the mountain soon). Seeing chocolate being made right at the source and learning about the process while you taste the difference between beans will definitely make you appreciate your bar just a wee bit more. It's an experience we think all y'all should have, and--lucky you!--tours of Ritual's Park City spot are available every Friday at 5. Grab your gang, get on up, and do your best to not go full Gloop, would ya?
Ritual Chocolate | 1105 Ironhorse Drive, Park City | 435.200.8475